St Helens 42 Bradford 18: Long makes short work of Bulls
Imperious display as Saints prove Bradford's nemesis again
Sunday 21 May 2006
St Helens, so often Bradford's nemesis in the Challenge Cup, completely outplayed them in this one-sided fifth-round tie. With players like Sean Long, Keiron Cunningham and Paul Sculthorpe in imperious form, Saints continued their Super League form in the cup, ruthlessly exposing a desperately poor Bradford effort. "It was a joy to watch," said Saints' coach, Daniel Anderson. "We've played pretty much how we trained and Bradford were a little bit overwhelmed by our enthusiasm.''
The Bulls put themselves under early pressure when Jamie Langley conceded a penalty for not letting Jamie Lyon play the ball. Saints took immediate advantage of the extra possession with Cunningham ploughing over from dummy half and being credited with the try by the video referee.
Bradford could do nothing right in the opening stages, squandering any ball that came their way and going further behind when Stuart Fielden went high on Willie Talau to give Lyon the second of his seven goals. Saints were dominant in every aspect of play and, when Long's 40-20 kick put them on the attack again, it took Shontayne Hape's desperate tackle and the video ref to deny Sculthorpe.
It was only a matter of time, however, before Saints turned an eight-point lead into one that better reflected their supremacy. They did so thanks to some more sloppy Bradford play, Paul Deacon's pass going to ground, Lesley Vainikolo showing a complete lack of urgency in retrieving it and Paul Wellens eventually going over from Jason Hooper's pass.
Even when Bradford finally succeeded in putting together a decent set of six tackles and got into Saints territory, they were hit on the break in devastating fashion, Francis Meli selling a dummy and setting up Lee Gilmour.
Bradford needed a freak try to put them on the scoreboard, after Sculthorpe knocked on near his own line. Joe Vagana eagerly picked up the pieces and his bulk took him over.
Even then, Fielden's knock-on quickly returned the initiative to Saints, Long kicking ahead, Lyon getting a boot to the ball and touching down just before the dead-ball line. Nick Fozzard put Saints even further ahead after 50 minutes and Cunningham's wonderful solo effort, taking him round and through a series of tackles, deepened Bradford's gloom before Talau added the seventh Saints try.
The Bulls, who have now lost three of their five games since the departure of Brian Noble, got a late double from Michael Withers, but this was a humbling experience. "We were consistent," said their new coach, Steve McNamara. "We were consistently poor from the first minute to the last. We started badly and got worse. I'm looking forward to looking at the video, because I want to get things right."
On this showing, McNamara and Brian Smith, who arrives to help him out this week have plenty to do.
St Helens: Wellens; Gardner, Lyon, Talau, Meli; L Pryce, Long; Cayleff, Cunningham, P Anderson, Sculthorpe, Gilmour, Hooper. Substitutes used: V Anderson, Wilkin, Graham, Fozzard.
Bradford: Withers; Johnson, B Harris, Hape, Vainikolo; I Harris, Deacon; Fielden, Newton, Lynch, Myers, Ferres, Langley. Substitutes used: K Pryce, Gene, Henderson, Vagana.
Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).
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