Rugby League: Bradley's influence keeps Bradford's mind on the job

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The Independent Online
Salford 24 Bradford Bulls 40

The Super League leaders are going into the World Club Championship, in which they will inevitably carry a good proportion of British hopes, in winning mood.

Although there were times at The Willows when their minds appeared to be elsewhere, Bradford showed enough of their formidable ability to keep the ball alive to suggest they can make their mark in that tournament when it begins next weekend.

The Bulls went behind to an early, close range try from Esene Faimalo - his first for Salford - but five converted tries between that and the start of the second half ensured that they would go into Super League cold storage with a seven-point lead over the rest of the field.

Glen Tomlinson began their charge, capitalising on inspired handling from Paul Anderson and Stuart Spruce to scoot away for their first try. His fellow Australian Graeme Bradley then struck twice, first exchanging passes with Mike Forshaw for one try and then seizing on Tomlinson's inside pass for another.

Bradley, such a dominating influence for the Bulls, also played a major role in setting up the chance for Jeff Wittenberg to claim their fourth and was also in the move, started and finished by James Lowes, that brought up their 30 immediately after the break.

One of Bradford's faults is that they are inclined to switch off at times and when they did so, after building such a convincing lead, Salford got back into the game, their substitute Scott Martin setting up one try for Ian Watson and then scoring one himself. Suddenly required to step up a gear, Bradford did just that, Bradley supplying a perfect pass for Forshaw to score and then linking with Paul Loughlin for Matt Calland to race over.

With the Bulls easing up, Salford had the consolation of the last two tries, a spectacular solo effort from Nathan McAvoy that showed why St Helens would like to sign him, and one on his debut for Richard Smith.

They will fly to Australia, where they play Adelaide on Sunday, in slightly better heart as a result. The worry for Bradford surrounds their prop, Brian McDermott, who was helped off with a knee injury in the first half but expects to be fit to face Penrith next Monday.

Salford: Broadbent, Sini, Rogers, McAvoy, Coussons, Blakeley, Lockson, Southern, Edwards, Eccles, Faimalo, Savelio, Hulme. Substitutes used: Smith, Platt, Burgess, Martin.

Bradford: Spruce, Loughlin, Peacock, Calland, Gales, Radley, Thomlinson, Anderson, Lowes, McDermott, Forshaw, Knox, McNamara. Substitutes used: Whittenburg, Graham, Medley, Reiheana.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).

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