Rugby League: Bradford hand Leeds a humiliating defeat

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The Independent Online

Bradford Northern. . . . . . . 36

Leeds. . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

LEEDS' early season disappointments moved closer to crisis point with a humiliating defeat by their traditional rivals yesterday. The net result of the club's spending this summer is that they can say that four league defeats by the end of September have effectively put them out of the championship race.

It is no use citing the absence, through injury, of Andy Gregory, Gary Mercer and Kevin Iro as an excuse for yesterday's debacle. There were still plenty of players in Leeds' side at Odsal who carry hefty price-tags - and receive handsome wage packets - and some of them displayed a shameful lack of effort and commitment.

The last thing they needed in these circumstances was to be on the wrong end of a couple of dubious refereeing decisions, as they were for two of Bradford's seven tries. But the fact is that Northern would have scored several more if they had not sometimes been too shocked at the ease with which they could carve Leeds apart.

Leeds' past came back to haunt them when Bradford set the tone for the afternoon with a quite brilliant try after only four minutes. David Heron, discarded this summer, sent another Headingley reject, Paul Medley, striding away on to the sweetest of passes. A swift exchange with Tony Marchant and Medley was under the sticks to get Northern off to a six-point start.

Deryck Fox, making a huge difference to Bradford, kicked precisely to the corner for Gerald Cordle to score the second, despite seeming to fail to ground the ball. Then Fox dived over a pile of bodies to score after fine work by David Hobbs and Karl Fairbank. Just before the break Brian Noble burrowed over direct from a play-the- ball near the try-line.

Steve McGowan went on a spectacular run for the fifth, even though Fox's pass to Fairbank in the build-up looked forward, and then Jon Hamer benefited from a whimsical back-flick from Fairbank. Finally, Neil Summers' kick found acres of space near the corner flag and Marchant was the first in the queue to score.

Leeds' only reply was a try from Ellery Hanley, whose reappearance as captain was mainly notable for the disastrous effect it had on the form of the displaced skipper, Garry Schofield, who can rarely have played worse. Bradford had a dozen players who looked more like World Cup final material than either of them, with Fox, Fairbank and the three former Leeds forwards - Roy Powell, Medley and Heron - perhaps the pick.

Bradford Northern: Simpson; Cordle (Anderson, 72), McGowan, Shelford, Marchant; Summers, Fox; Hobbs, Noble, Powell, Medley (Hamer, 43), Fairbank, Heron.

Leeds: Tait (Fawcett, 72); Gibson, Edwards, Innes, Fallon; Schofield, Stephens; Wane (O'Neill, 48), Maskill, O'Neill (Molloy, 28), Dixon, Goodway, Hanley.

Referee: R Whitfield (Widnes).