Rugby League: Bradford 52 Warrington 16 - Paul pair weave silky magic

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The Independent Online
WHEN BRADFORD took the bold and imaginative step this winter of uniting the Paul brothers, the hope was that there would be afternoons like this, when their combined rugby brilliance would weave unforgettable magic.

What could not have been predicted was that it would come so early in the season, against a side that had already shown some impressive form.

Although Tevita Vaikona claimed four of Bradford's 10 tries, it was Mr and Mrs Paul's half-back sons, Henry and Robbie, who dominated yesterday's spectacular Silk Cut Challenge Cup quarter-final.

This was as far removed as it is possible to be from the plodding, predictable Bulls of last season, with their whole philosophy now geared to getting the best out of the free-wheeling talents they have available.

Unlike many one-sided contests, this never became boring, because it remained fascinating to see what they would get up to next.

"During that first-half, I was jumping up and down like 10,000 people on the terraces at some of the tries we scored," said the Bradford coach, Matthew Elliott, and it takes a lot to make him gush like that.

Although Henry's goalkicking was an optional extra in the context of this match, he got Bradford moving with an early penalty. Their new Australian second-rower, David Boyle, then dummied and barged his way over from acting half, an area in which Warrington found insoluble problems.

Henry's inside ball to Vaikona produced the second try for Mike Forshaw and before Warrington had time to catch their breath he then released Scott Naylor.

When James Lowes linked with Robbie Paul, who took the return pass from Michael Withers to complete an 80-yard try, Bradford were 22 points ahead in less then even time and the outcome was beyond doubt.

It sends out a warning to other clubs, including their semi-final opponents Leeds, that Bradford remained so eager to carry on the destruction.

Vaikona went over for the first time before the break, rounding off a move involving both Pauls and Naylor. He was there again, feeding off Henry, five minutes into the second-half, before the try created by Robbie and Danny Peacock for Withers that was perhaps the most stunning of the lot.

Warrington had been shell-shocked from an early stage, so it was an unexpected interlude when they worked a neat blind-side move for Scott Wilson to score. Bradford's response was immediate; after it had taken a mass of Warrington tacklers to stop the rampaging Vaikona, Stuart Spruce strolled over from dummy-half.

Nick Zisti's long break set up Vaikona for his hat-trick, closely followed by Lowes getting the ball away perfectly to him for his fourth.

Elliott expressed some mild disappointment that, after the departure of Henry Paul for a well-earned rest, Warrington recorded dashing long range tries from Toa Kohe-Love and Mark Forster.

It was not possible to be seriously critical of such a display, although Elliott wanted to spread the credit around.

"Everyone wants to talk about the Pauls, and I like to talk about them as well, but I thought the whole lot of them played so well today," he said.

Warrington would vouch for that.

Bradford: Spruce; Vaikona, Naylor, Peacock, Withers; H Paul, R Paul; McDermott, Lowes, Fielden, Dwyer, Boyle, Forshaw. Substitutes used: Donougher, Zisti, Anderson, McAvoy.

Warrington: Penny; Roach, Kohe-Love, Hunte, Forster; Wilson, Briers, Hilton, Farrar, Nutley, Gillies, McCurrie, Roper. Substitutes used: Hanger, Chambers, Busby, Knott.

Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).