Bradford Bulls rediscovered their lost art of winning at Odsal Stadium yesterday to move within two points of Super League leaders Leeds, and with a game in hand, overpowering Widnes after initially meeting stout resistance.
After losing each of their previous three home games the Bulls were expecting a severe test from a Widnes side with play-off ambitions of their own, especially after their recent wins over Leeds and Hull.
The Vikings defended heroically in the first-half and took an early 6-0 lead, but they finally bowed to the weight of Bulls possession from a huge pack led by Paul Anderson, Joe Vagana and the impressive Daniel Gartner, with Paul Deacon typically inventive and involved at half-back.
Adam Hughes punished Tevita Vaikona's indecision to react first to Dean Lawford's raking kick and grab an opportunist Widnes try that Jules O'Neill converted. But three times Widnes were forced to drop out from beneath their own posts and with Leon Pryce and James Lowes both being held up over the Widnes line on their backs, there was a certain inevitability about the Bulls' three tries in a 13-minute spell before the break, given the pressure they exerted.
From the scrum feed following Lowes's near-miss, Shontayne Hape stretched over on the left, Lesley Vainikolo finished a sweeping passing move by blasting over by the corner-flag and Lee Radford supported a superb Vaikona off-load to cross, with Deacon adding two conversions.
Dan Potter's superb try-saving tackle on Vainikolo showed that the Vikings had lost none of their determination on the resumption and Jules O'Neill reduced the arrears with a 40-metre penalty. But Vainikolo hit back with the game-clinching try on 56 minutes, taking Deacon's drop-off pass and powering throughfor a close-range try that, with Deacon's goal, opened up a 22-8 lead.
Leon Pryce's clever approach play led to Vaikona going over on the right after the Widnes winger Jason Demetriou conceded another drop-out after foiling Vainikolo's hat-trick attempt.
Then, as the Bulls turned the screw, Stuart Reardon pounced for their third try in an inspired seven-minute spell after Deacon's kick ricocheted behind the Vikings line.
Shane Millard then lost the ball over the line in an isolated Vikings raid before Deacon was denied a try on the line. Radford's second try saw the Bulls finish with a flourish, Deacon adding his sixth goal.
Bradford: Reardon; Vaikona, Naylor, Hape, Vainikolo; Pryce, Deacon; Vagana, Lowes, Anderson, Gartner, Peacock, Forshaw. Substitutes used: Gilmour, Langley, Radford, Parker.
Widnes: Spruce; Potter, Demetriou, Hughes, Devlin; Jules O'Neill, Lawford; Relf, Millard, Julian O'Neill, Hay, Finnigan, Frame. Substitutes used: Cantillon, Farrell, Mills, McCurrie.
Referee: A Klein (London).