Tigers maul Bradford and spoil party

Bradford 14 Castleford 28
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Castleford ruined Bradford's celebrations as they received the League Leaders' Shield by punishing them for having their minds elsewhere at Odsal last night.

Only an unlikely series of scorelines next weekend could put the Tigers into the play-offs, but they showed what might have been as they out-performed Bradford for enthusiasm and mauled them with three tries in 10 minutes in the second half.

The early stages of what was supposed to be Bradford's party night were marred by an injury to the Castleford centre, Paul Mellor, who was stretchered off and taken to hospital after being flattened in an attempt to tackle a rampaging Paul Anderson.

Bradford exerted plenty of pressure, thanks to Paul Deacon's long-range kicking game, but they could not turn it into points and saw Castleford take the lead with a well-worked try when Mitch Healey chipped ahead for Danny Orr, who also landed the conversion.

A third 40-20 kick from Deacon and a heavy penalty count in their favour helped the Bulls to turn the screw again, but their cutting edge was missing until James Lowes put through a little kick for Shontayne Hoppe to pounce for their first try.

Deacon's missed conversion left the Tigers in the lead and they extended it through Orr's penalty as Bradford continued to look like a side that had salted away its best rugby for the play-offs.

It was noticeable that, after ignoring a couple of other chances to kick at goal, they accepted one before half-time when Mike Smith hung on to Scott Naylor.

An exchange of penalties early in the second half left Castleford in the lead. They were still the more incisive side and they got further reward when Andy Lynch managed to offload on the try line and Wayne Godwin touched down.

Lynch then smashed his own way through a defence that lacked the commitment to stop him, with Orr adding both goals.

Tom Saxton was the next to take advantage of Bradford's generosity and, although Leon Pryce got one back when Dale Fritz was in the sin-bin, the damage was done.

Many of the Bradford fans who had come to see fireworks and festivities had left by then, reflecting on the fact that a side which fails to concentrate on the job in hand will usually be embarrassed.

Bradford: Reardon; Vaikona, Naylor, Gilmour, Hape; L Pryce, Deacon; Vagana, Lowes, Anderson, Gartner, Peacock, Langley. Substitutes used: Pratt, Forshaw, Moore, Parker.

Castleford: Saxton; W Pryce, Mellor, Eagar, Rogers; Orr, Healey; Sykes, Hudson, Lynch, Smith, Fritz, Vowles. Substitues used: Johnson, Godwin, Huby, Blakeway.

Referee: A Klein (London)