Rugby League: Bradford Bulls 18 Leeds Rhinos 14 - Hungry Bradford take revenge

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IT WILL not, in itself, make up for failing to reach Wembley, but Bradford opened a handy four-point lead over Leeds in Super League with a well-earned victory on the rebound at Odsal last night.

Although the Bradford coach, Matthew Elliott, discouraged the revenge motive, a contest between such well-matched opponents was always likely to go to the hungrier team. On the night, that was the Bulls, although they had an awkward few minutes at the end when a match-winning position could have slipped away from them again.

"It was a magnificent effort by both sides, considering what they did on Sunday," Elliot said. As on that day, Bradford began at a ferocious pace and forced an early try. Brad Godden's knock-on gave the Bulls the scrum feed and their ploy of bringing out their biggest forward, Paul Anderson, to help the defence paid off.

Anderson was stopped, but the defence was sucked in and Henry Paul's pass sent Mike Forshaw over, with Steve McNamara converting.

There was another try on the cards when Nick Zisti was brought back for Robbie Paul's forward pass, but soon after an Iestyn Harris penalty brought Leeds their first points. They were still prone to mistakes though, as when Marcus St Hilaire was trapped in his own in-goal, conceding the drop out.

The extra possession saw Bradford strike again, Robbie Paul's long pass sending his brother surging through.

It was a more than useful early lead, but if there is a more improved player in the country this season than Ryan Sheridan, he has been keeping himself well-hidden. He took Lee Jackson's pass to dart over and narrow the lead to one that did not reflect Bradford's command.

It was extended by two points before the break, when Marc Glanville was sent to the sin-bin for holding down, and Henry Paul - kicking in place of McNamara, in the blood bin along with his team-mate, Jeremy Donougher after a clash of heads - landed the penalty.

Bradford started the second half with the same intensity as the first and their pressure soon produced a third try when Robbie Paul raced over on the last tackle, Henry curling over a conversion that was cancelled out by a penalty from Harris.

The Bulls had dicey moments, though, and were assured of a nervous last five minutes when Harris, by now playing scrum-half for the injured Sheridan, ghosted through straight from the scrum after Forshaw had fumbled a kick.

Harris's goal gave Leeds a faint chance of snatching it, but their last hope went when Paul Sterling kicked ahead too strongly.

Bradford Bulls: Spruce; Vaikona, Naylor, Peacock, Zisti; H Paul, R Paul; Anderson, Lowes, Brian McDermott, Jowitt, Forshaw, McNamara. Substitutes used: Donougher, Harmon, Boyle, Deacon.

Leeds Rhinos: St Hilaire; Sterling, Golden, Godden, Rivett; Harris, Sheridan; Masella, Newton, Barrie McDermott, Farrell, Morley, Glanville. Substitutes used: Cummings, Mathiou, Jackson, Sinfield.

Referee: S Presley (Castleford).