Pryce returns to peak form as Saints belt sloppy Bulls
Bradford 6 St Helens 33
Monday 15 February 2010
Paul Wellens scored four tries as St Helens gave Bradford a lesson in most aspects of the game. The former Great Britain full-back posted a reminder of what a class act he remains at club level, while the game was also a triumph for Kyle Eastmond, who scored a spectacular try and kicked seven out of seven goals.
But perhaps the most significant thing for Saints was that Leon Pryce chose his return to his old stomping ground at Odsal to pull out of a form slump that has gone on for over a year.
Pryce was very much his old self as he tormented the Bulls and set up several of his side's tries.
Saints, already depleted by injury, lost their hooker and captain before kick-off, because of a family bereavement. They were not unduly affected, however, as they rode their luck and exploited the Bulls' weaknesses to build up a 20-point half-time lead.
Bradford were hesitating, thinking there had been a forward pass, when Wellens's break set up Jon Wilkin after 11 minutes. Eastmond landed his first easy conversion and then a penalty as the Bulls were rather harshly adjudged to have pulled back Wellens before he could take Pryce's pass.
Brett Kearney's ankle-tap stopped Francis Meli when he was threatening a second Saints try, but the ball was simply switched to the other side of the field, where Pryce put Wellens over with the sort of skill that used to be a regular feature of his game.
Bradford knew for sure that the gods were against them when Bryn Hargreaves lost the ball with a fanciful pass, but got it straight back from a Bulls' fumble. Again it was Pryce who put Wellens in.
The second half must have been even more annoying for Bulls diehards. They had plenty of possession and field position, but showed not the slightest idea of what to do with it.
In fact, one of the first things they did with it was to present Saints with another try – Eastmond's 75-metre intercept from Matt Orford's pass.
After Wayne Godwin fumbled on the try-line to waste the Bulls' best chance, Wellens's exemplary support play brought him two more tries.
Bradford: Halley; Sheriffe, Sykes, Nero, Reardon; Kearney, Orford; Scruton, L'Estrange, Lynch, Langley, Whitehead, Menzies. Substitutes used: Godwin, Worrincy, Kopczak, Hall.
St Helens: Wellens; Lomax, Gidley, Wheeler, Meli; Pryce, Eastmond; Fozzard, Moore, Graham, Flannery, Wilkin, Puletua. Substitutes used: Roby, Clough, Fa'asavalu, Hargreaves.
Referee: P Bentham (Warrington).
After winning the inaugural Super League, St Helens also won the Grand Final in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2006, while the Bradford Bulls followed their 1997 league win with final victories in 2001, 2003 and 2005.
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