Warrington Wolves showed enough flashes of quality to break down Bradford's stubborn resistance and maintain their place in Super League's top four yesterday.
The Bulls displayed plenty of grit but ultimately could not cope with Warrington's range of scoring options.
"They're a hard-working team and they weren't going to give us any free passages, but there were some really excellent plays in the game," said the Wolves' coach Tony Smith, who admitted that it can be hard to motivate players when they know that the business end of the season does not start until the play-offs.
Warrington have not quite reached the level of consistency that was widely expected of them this season, whereas it would be fair to say that the Bulls, after almost going out of business last year, have exceeded all expectations. The doubts about them concern the depth of their squad, which has not been fully tested yet. The Bulls side that crossed the Pennines yesterday was close to full strength and, in the end, they were not quite up to the task.
They struggled early on, as Wolves hooker Micky Higham gave a master-class in high-calibre work from dummy-half. It was his incisive break that set up the field position for the first try inside the opening two minutes. Ben Westwood passed short off his hip, not usually part of his repertoire, and Simon Grix steamed through to touch down.
It looked ominous for the Bulls when Warrington scored again after 12 minutes. Another defence-piercing run from Higham forced a penalty and Stefan Ratchford's kick ahead was perfectly weighted for the highly rated young back-rower Ben Currie to reach it inches from the dead-ball line.
Bradford, though, did not return from the brink of the abyss by bowing to the inevitable. They came back into the game strongly, subjected the Wolves to prolonged pressure and eventually got their reward when Brett Kearney came into the attacking line and fed Adrian Purtell.
As half-time approached, however, Warrington re-asserted themselves, as Richie Myler and Brett Hodgson released Chris Riley on the right wing to score their third try of the game.
Sweeping rain made clean handling difficult in the second half, so it was all the more remarkable that Joel Monaghan should catch and touch down Myler's cross-field kick to the furthest corner of the in-goal area.
Further tries from Chris Hill, Ryan Atkins and Grix's second of the match left Bradford firmly in the shade.
The Bulls' coach Francis Cummins felt that the home side had controlled the game. "The effort was there again, but you need more than effort to beat the top teams," he said. "They got a roll on better than we did."
Warrington: Hodgson; J Monaghan, Grix, Atkins, Riley; Ratchford, Myler; Cooper, Higham, Hill, Waterhouse, Westwood, Currie. Substitutes used: M.Monaghan, Wood, D Bridge, Riley.
Bradford: Kearney; Kear, Purtell, Lulia, Platt; Sammut, Gale; Scruton, L'Estrange, Manuokafoa, Bateman, Whitehead, Walker. Substitutes used: Diskin, Addy, Evans, Sidlow.
Referee: P Bentham (Warrington).Reuse content