Rugby League: Bulls fall to class of Harris

Bradford 6 Leeds 26
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The Independent Online
A HIGH-CLASS hat-trick of tries from Iestyn Harris consigned the Super League champions to a damaging defeat at Odsal last night.

The full-back's skills stood out in a bitter, bruising game that showed that the Bulls are not the force they were last year.

Then it was 21 games before they lost in Super League; this was only their second and they finished soundly beaten by a side prepared to defend until they dropped.

Bradford took an early lead through a Steve McNamara penalty but were already making the sort of basic errors that were to cost them dear.

Leeds began to punish them just before the half-way point in the first half, Harris and Francis Cummins stretching the defence down the left and Tony Kemp supplying the final pass to send Richie Blackmore charging over, Harris adding the goal.

Shaun Edwards, on for Graeme Bradley in the blood bin, was having a particularly unhappy time. He gave away a penalty for throwing a punch at Adrian Morley and then his attempt at an interception gave Leeds possession from a scrum.

Harris, up in the line again in a way that suggests there is still as much of the stand-off as the full-back about his philosophy, took the pass from the scrum base and went straight through Edwards' tackle.

Four minutes before half-time, Harris did it again, this time finding Mike Forshaw's attempt at a tackle sadly wanting and holding off Sonny Nickle.

Bradley returned at the start of the second half, but had to be replaced again by Edwards almost immediately as his facial wound re-opened.

The other change was in Leeds discipline, which was suddenly very ragged. Graham Holroyd was sin-binned for holding down in the tackle and Jamie Mathiou conceded a penalty for offside on the last tackle of a set to allow Bradford to build the pressure.

Inevitably, the Bulls got over the line, although there looked to be a suspicion of a double movement in the try that was credited to Matt Calland.

Leeds regrouped effectively when they were restored to full strength, Paul Sterling twice failing narrowly to score in the corning chasing kicks, before Harris's dummy took him between Warren Jowitt and Robbie Paul for the clinching try.

Both sides were then reduced to 11 men for the final minutes with the sending off of Nickle and the sin-binning of his team-mate, Stuart Spruce and the Leeds pair Blackmore and Cummins after a series of running battles. Leeds rubbed in their superiority when Harris's long ball sent in Sterling two minutes from time.

Bradford: Spruce; Vaikona, Calland, Peacock, Scales; Bradley, Paul; Reihana, Dwyer, McDermott, Donougher, Forshaw, McNamara. Substitutes used: Nickle, Jowitt, Graham, Edwards.

Leeds: Harris; Sterling, Blackmore, Cummins, St Hilaire; Kemp, Sheridan; Masella, Newton, Fleary, Morley, Farrell, Glanville. Substitutes used: Powell, Mathiou, Rivett, Holroyd.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).