Paul withstands Halifax challenge

Halifax 28 Bradford 52
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The Independent Online

Halifax, a club that has had to hold out the begging bowl to its supporters to ensure that it gets through the season, threatened to embarrass Bradford's wealth of talent yesterday.

Playing with great passion, the Blue Sox matched the Super League leaders for much of a spectacular game and the final scoreline did them less than justice.

Halifax began with a glaring error, which was immediately punished. Jamie Bloem's kick-off went out on the full, Bradford applied the pressure and from the game's first scrum Henry Paul sent brother Robbie over untouched.

After an exchange of penalties, some superb Bradford handling ended with Robbie Paul's second try. There was an ominous quality about that score, but Halifax fought back with two Bloem goals and a beautifully worked try to Jim Gannon, from Gavin Clinch's cunning kick, to level the scores.

Halifax then took the lead when Damian Gibson swooped in the corner, but Bradford drew level when Henry Paul and Daniel Gartner gave Leon Pryce a clear run in and Paul added the conversion from wide out, but Halifax continued to set about them with all the resentment of poverty stricken neighbours.

It took a tremendous charge down the right by Tevita Vaikona to put the Bulls back in the lead but Andrew Dunemann's effort put Halifax just two points in arrears at the end of a gripping first half.

A cruel deflection to give Bradford an extra six tackles and the brute power of Paul Anderson brought them six points to stretch their lead early in the second half and Scott Naylor's kick then rolled kindly for Vaikona to dive in for his second.

Halifax were not helped by the penalties piling up against them as Henry Paul's boot gave Bradford a 14-point lead. They needed that cushion when Ollie Marns followed his kick to touch down, but the Bulls re-established some control when Michael Withers got away an astonishing pass for Graham McKay to score.

Even with Pryce in the sin bin for holding down, Bradford added further tries from McKay and Vaikona in the final stages, but the margin of victory did not reflect the pressure they had been under.

"It was no indication of the game," said the Halifax coach, Steve Linnane. "They scored off every single mistake we made."

Halifax: Cardiss, Marns, Hassa, Donlan, Gibson, Clinch, Firth, Goldspink, Wawless, Gannon, Bloem, McMenemy, Dunemann.

Substitutes: Hobson, Moana, Tickle.

Bradford: Withers, Viokona, Naylor, Mackay, Pryce, H Paul, R Paul, Vagana, Lowes, McDermott, Gartner, Peacock, Forshaw. Substitutes: Deacon, Anderson, Gilmour, Rigon.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).