Rugby League: Bulls ahead of the herd

Leeds 16 Bradford 32
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The Independent Online
The Bradford Bulls might have been gored by those pesky Antipodeans, but they remain ahead of the common herd in Britain.

Apart from the inconvenient details that their Super League record 14th consecutive win makes them even more of a certainty for this season's title, this is the match that the game here needed.

More than 19,000 spectators saw a superb match between equals, in which Leeds played a full part; but, as George Orwell observed, some animals are more equal than others.

Leeds had at least their fair share of play in the first half, but trailed at the break because Bradford took their chances.

They did so first after four minutes when Marcus St Hilaire could not hold Steve McNamara's high kick under pressure from Graeme Bradley. When the ball came loose, Bradley was there again to take Paul Anderson's astute pass to go over.

Bradford showed the same predatory instincts midway through the half, when McNamara took an equally good pass from Glen Tomlinson and carried Francis Cummins over the try line with him.

In between those two Bradford tries, both goaled impressively by McNamara, Leeds scored one of their own and could have had two more.

Barrie McDermott was the successful home player, driving over from close range after picking up at dummy half. One clear cut chance was squandered when Cummins snatched his pass to the wide open Paul Sterling. The Bulls also lived dangerously when Andy Hodgson threw a pass to Stuart Bruce behind the try line.

As it was, a conversion and two penalties from Iestyn Harris kept Leeds well in touch. However, they fell further behind seven minutes into the second half when an outstanding move gave the Bulls their third try. McNamara's pass sent Bradley striding away to find Danny Peacock. As Peacock was tackled short of the line he managed to flick up his pass for Sonny Nickle and, with McNamara's kick, Bulls were eight points clear.

That grew to a match-winning margin when Tomlinson's reverse pass sent Nathan Graham through Perry Newton's tackle for another converted try. But Leeds came back in thrilling style, Adrian Morley charging through and hurling a one-handed pass for Gary Mercer to score.

Harris's conversion was cancelled out by McNamara's penalty and another attack saw Hodgson remove all doubt the final outcome.

Leeds: Gibson; Sterling, Cummins, Hassan, St Hilaire; Harris, Sheridan; Masella, Collins, Barrie McDermott, Morley, Farrell, Mercer. Substitutes used: Holroyd, Mithiou, Newton, Hay.

Bradford: Spruce; Hodgson, Bradley, Peacock, Calland; Paul, Tomlinson; Anderson, Lowes, Brian McDermott, Forshaw, Dwyer, McNamara. Substitutes used: Wittenberg, Graham, Reihana, Nickle.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).

n Tony Smith, Wigan's scrum-half, enhanced his claims for a Great Britain place as he grabbed five tries in Wigan's 58-2 demolition of Sheffield Eagles at Central Park yesterday. Andy Johnson set the ball rolling with two tries inside the first 10 minutes and the Eagles never recovered from that. Smith powered his way over for two touchdowns before the break to give Wigan a commanding half-time lead of 24-2.

Eric Hughes' side, including former Great Britain Academy hooker Ian Talbot on his debut, were able to relax and turn on the style, Smith adding three more tries, Jason Robinson two and Kris Radlinski one.