Red-hot Wigan send Bulls into a meltdown
Bradford 16 Wigan 54
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Monday 20 February 2012
It could be another long, unrewarding summer for Bradford, after the way they were dazzled by Wigan's intermittent brilliance at Odsal.
The Bulls, once so dominant in Super League, have missed out on the play-offs for the last three years and there was little to suggest an improvement here, although when Wigan were good, they were very good.
"We were up against a team that was red-hot and we just couldn't handle them," said the Bradford coach, Mick Potter.
The Wigan coach, Shaun Wane, summed it up by saying: "When we did hold on to the ball, our skill level was incredible." He was still concerned, however, about the way his side started the game.
The Bulls should have been buoyed by a good win at Castleford last week, but they failed to take advantage of a string of Wigan errors in the first 10 minutes. Worse than that, they also lost their scrum-half, Luke Gale, around whose long kicking much of their game plan revolved, with an ankle ligament injury.
They were still reorganising when Wigan hit them with three tries in seven minutes. Bradford got their numbering-up all wrong on the left side of their defence to present Josh Charnley with an overlap and a simple score. There was a bit of luck about the second, Brett Finch's deflected kick coming back to him and allowing him to send Pat Richards over.
There was unmistakable class about the third, however, with Finch holding up his pass and Gareth Hock steaming unstoppably on to the ball.
The loss of Gale had been exacerbated by Jarrod Sammut twice missing touch with a penalty. When he finally managed one the Bulls got on the scoreboard, Jason Crookes touching down from Brett Kearney's kick. Sammut scored a try soon after to erase earlier mistakes. Sam Tomkins was threatening on one of his spring-heeled runs, but spoilt it with a wild pass, picked up by Sammut, who went 80 metres to touch down.
That little bit of good work by the home side was ruined before half-time, when Tom Burgess lost the ball and Chris Tuson got over the try-line.
The second half was all Wigan, starting with another irresistible scoring burst of three tries in five minutes. Darrell Goulding got the first with a visionary run from dummy-half, Tuson the second from another fine pass from Finch and Liam Farrell the third after a long run by Richards.
Some brilliant handling gave Goulding his second and Tomkins' kick provided Charnley with his. The best was saved for last, when Farrell became the fourth man to complete his pair, after a dazzling move. The small miracles were that no one completed a hat-trick and Tomkins did not score at all.
Bradford's only answer was a late effort from Kearney, but by then they wore the look of a team who knew they had been fighting out of their class.
Bradford Kearney; Crookes, Lulia, Platt, Kear; Sammut, Gale; Kopczak, Diskin, Hargreaves, Whitehead, Walker, Langley. Substitutes used L'Estrange, Scruton, Joseph, Burgess.
Wigan Tomkins; Charnley, Goulding, Hughes, Richards; Finch, Leuluai; Mossop, McIlorum, Flower, Hansen, Hock, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used Lima, Tuson, Lauaki, Farrell.
Referee S Ganson (St Helens).
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