Rugby League: Bradford aim to rewrite history

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The Independent Online
Bradford Northern. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19

Castleford . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12

PETER FOX, the Bradford coach, made one of the safer predictions of his 40 years in the game after Northern had qualified for a Regal Trophy final against his nemesis of last season, writes Dave Hadfield.

'Wigan won't beat us 71-10 this time,' he said at the conclusion of one of his typically bravado post- match performances for the press.

Nor will they; but Fox knows that Bradford will have to play a good deal better than this to avoid a resounding defeat even at the hands of the curiously fallible Wigan of the last couple of weeks.

The scoreline that still haunts Bradford is the massacre in the semi-final of the Challenge Cup at Burnden Park last March. Just for good measure, Wigan beat them 50-8 in the league two weeks later.

Bradford have strengthened wisely since then and all their newcomers played significant roles at Valley Parade on Saturday.

Roy Powell, as a new signing cup-tied for the Burnden debacle, sat on the sidelines that day, repeating to himself 'What have I done? What have I done?'

His break lifted a siege during which Castleford should have amassed a handsome lead, his old Leeds team-mate, David Heron, took the ball on and Neil Summers scored. The most important addition of all, Deryck Fox, laid on the third try for David Hobbs.

Wigan will meet a different Bradford at Elland Road on 23 January, but whether they are sufficiently different is another matter.

They made enough mistakes in the first quarter to lose several matches, and, although Castleford's eventual frustration owed something to Bradford's scrambling defence, it owed even more to their own incompetence.

Fox will strike his normal theme of paupers against plutocrats for the final. His players, far from being intimidated by last season's history, will, said Saturday's man of the match, Karl Fairbank, relish the chance to rewrite it.

Bradford Northern: D Watson; T Marchant, S McGowan, D Shelford, R Simpson; N Summers, D Fox; D Hobbs, B Noble (T Clark, 52), J Hamer (P Medley, 39), R Powell, K Fairbank, D Heron.

Castleford: S Middleton; St J Ellis, R Blackmore, T Smith, J Wray (G Steadman, 56); P Coyne, M Ford; L Crooks, C Watson, K England (D Sampson, 29), T Morrison, M Ketteridge, T Nikau.

Referee: I Ollerton (Wigan).