New-look Bradford lift the gloom

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The Independent Online
DAVE HADFIELD

Bradford Bulls 14 Oldham 10

Bradford Bulls' new-look side began the post-Paul Newlove era with a win, although few of the spectators exploited by the cynical exercise of going ahead with the game in thick fog will be any the wiser about their capabilities.

A farcical match might have been just about feasible for the players at ground level. From everywhere else in Odsal's vast bowl, the action on the pitch was often indiscernable.

Of the four new Bradford acquisitions making what might be loosely termed their first appearance, Sonny Nickle at least had the presence of mind to run towards the side of the field where more spectators were peering through the mist and consequently showed up well in the early stages.

Oldham had the first chance to open the scoring, however, Steve Gartland missing with a penalty awarded for holding down in the tackle. After 23 minutes of largely invisible play, Nickle marked an already impressive debut by barging over from Neil Summers' pass, St John Ellis adding the goal.

Within five minutes, Nickle was again involved in a Bradford try, driving towards the line for Jason Donohue to pick up from dummy-half and dart over, Ellis again converting.

Ellis also added a penalty when Oldham made a grim situation even worse by having their prop, Ian Sherratt, sent off for the use of an elbow on Alan Wilson.

There seemed to be a few pieces of villainy going on amid a scene that resembled a Hammer film set, but it was impossible to be sure. It took the arrival of Rob Myler as a replacement for the injured Scott Ranson to bring Oldham their first score. Myler slid over in the corner just three minutes after coming on.

When a shadowy figure who could well have been Wally Gibson went over, Oldham were within a converted try of the Bulls, and Francis Maloney edged them closer with a penalty, but Bradford hung on.

Bradford Bulls: Simpson, Christie, Calland, Loughlin, Ellis, Summers (Turpin, 47), Paul, Hamer (McDermott, 59), Donohue, Fairbank, Dwyer, Nickle (Knox, 45), Wilson.

Oldham: Atcheson, Ranson (Maloney, 52), Topping, Abram, Gibson, Gartland (Maloney, 42), Crompton, Sherratt, Green, Temu, Lord, Davidson, Hill.

Referee: S Presley (Castleford).

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