Rugby League: Bradford made to pay

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The Independent Online
Bradford Bulls 12 Wigan Warriors 28

ANY HOPES Bradford had of defending their Super League title from a position of strength are being undermined by a fatal weakness in their discipline.

For the second week running, the Bulls had a key player sent off, their Great Britain hooker, James Lowes, being dismissed in the 55th minute for an outburst at the referee, Stuart Cummings.

Lowes' gripe was that he believed Denis Betts had tackled him from an offside position. The terms in which he aired his grievance were such that he was already walking towards the touchline before Cummings produced the red card.

Unlike the sending off of their captain, Graeme Bradley, who played in this game following a successful appeal against his ban - at Warrington last week - it was difficult to argue that Bradford would have won if Lowes had stayed on.

They were already trailing 18-6 to a Wigan side demonstrating that they are the ones capable of giving Leeds a contest for top spot.

Although Bradford's injury-weakened side had battered away at Wigan gamely enough last night, they could not, apart from Robbie Paul's delayed pass to Tevita Vikona, produced the killer touch.

That try wiped out the one created by Kris Radlinski for Gary Connolly, but Wigan's response was a quick burst consisting of two well-constructed tries from Mark Bell and Neil Cowie before half-time.

Bradford applied plenty of pressure without being able to narrow the gap at the start of the second half. In fact, they gained an extra degree of conviction when Lowes departed and the determined Brian McDermott stretched out a long arm to score one of the tries that had become something of a trademark.

They hurled themselves at Wigan in search of an equaliser, but Connolly's second try confirmed Wigan's status as Leeds major challengers.

The young prop, Neil Baynes, started it, Robbie McCormack carried it on and Connolly, positioning himself superbly, ensured that there would be six league points between the two sides this morning, before Bradford's fourth defeat of the Super League season was rounded off by Henry Paul.

Bradford: Spruce; Hodgson, Viakona, Bradley, Ekoku; Forshaw, R Paul; Donougher, Lowes, McDermott, Dwyer, Nickle, McNamara. Substitutes used: Reihana, Fielden, Graham, Crouthers.

Wigan: Radlinski; Bell, Moore, Connolly, Robinson; H Paul, Cardiff; Cowie, McCormack, Mestrov, Betts, Gilmour, Farrell.

Substitutes used: Cassidy, O'Connor, Johnson, Baynes.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).