Reardon's class helps Bulls punish sorry Tigers

Bradford Bulls 44 Castleford Tigers 18
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The Independent Online

Stuart Reardon, man of the match for Bradford in last year's Super League Grand Final, showed his continued value to them this season with four tries, with which they outclassed the tame Tigers.

Bradford did not entirely put their patchy recent form behind them, but whenever they got the ball wide, players like Reardon, Jamie Langley and Lesley Vainikolo - who both scored two tries - were just too strong for them.

But from the start, the reigning champions against the winless bottom team in Super League looked like a mismatch of potentially epic proportions.

Sure enough, Bradford started like a side determined to emphasise the gulf in class, Aaron Smith's clever pass sending Langley racing away and Reardon scoring on the opposite wing from Leon Pryce's pass.

More surprising was the way Castleford responded though, Andy Lynch getting the ball out of the tackle and Darren Rogers latching on to it and levelling the scores. And the Tigers would have been ahead too, but Wayne Godwin missed what should have been an easy kick at goal.

There was a return to normality when, after a sweeping cross-field move, Paul Deacon's kick came back off one of the Castleford newcomers, Rob Worrincy, for Langley to score.

In fact, Langley was having a field day on the left, grabbing his second try by taking another pass from the lively Smith and carrying the unfortunate Worrincy on his back for the last 15 yards before the line.

Things were little better for Castleford on the opposite flank, with Reardon claiming his second, again from Pryce's pass.

This time, there was at least a response from the Tigers, with Godwin darting over from dummy-half and this time adding the goal, plus a penalty after Joe Vagana was punished for dissent.

Astonishingly, Castleford were within one score of a side which had spent much of that first half-hour threatening to overrun them, although Deacon nudged the Bulls further ahead with a penalty.

There was also time before the interval for the Pryce-Reardon partnership to strike again with a well-judged kick, this time setting up the wingman for his hat-trick.

However, five minutes after the break Castleford fell further behind when Reardon grabbed his fourth, and Vainikolo added a pair, with Deacon's sixth goal before Paul Mellor got a late consolation for the Tigers.

Castleford caretaker-coach, Gary Mercer, calculated that with the loss of Jamie Thackray with a broken arm and Ryan Hudson with concussion, he now has 13 first-teamers injured. "But a win is coming," he said defiantly, "I can sense it."

Bradford Bulls: Withers, Reardon, Pryce, Johnson, Vainikolo, Paul, Deacon, Anderson, A Smith, Parker, Langley, Peacock, Swann. Substitutes used: Bridge, Radford, Vagana, Fielden.

Castleford Tigers: Worrincy, Rogers, Clayton, Mellor, Hepworth, Maloney, Brambani, Greenhill, Godwin, Lynch, Thackray, Harland, Hudson. Substitutes used: Jackson, B Smith, Ryan, Kain.

Referee: R Laughton (Barnsley).