Rugby League: Farrell's boot sinks the Bulls

Warriors 14 Bradford Bulls 0
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The Independent Online
WIGAN GROUND out an invaluable victory on the strength of the kicking of their captain, Andy Farrell, and showed Bradford they will not give up their Super League title lightly. Five goals from Farrell, plus a late try from Gary Connolly, put an end to Bulls' nine-match winning run. Although Bradford will still end the regular season in first place, this was a warning of the challenge that could await them in the play- offs.

"That defensive display against a side of Bradford's ability was outstanding," said the Wigan coach, Andy Goodway. It was a sentiment echoed by Bulls' Matthew Elliott, who will now find out whether a defeat at this stage of the season could be, as has been suggested, a blessing in disguise.

There was precious little fluent rugby in the first half, with both sides betraying signs of nerves with error-ridden handling in greasy conditions. The only points on the board were two penalties kicked by Farrell, although Bradford were lucky to escape further punishment when Bernard Dwyer and Robbie Paul both lost their balance and the ball to give Wigan possession in good attacking positions. The closest the home side could come to threatening a try was when Denis Betts and Farrell combined in a sweeping attack that ended predictably with the ball going to ground.

Five minutes into the second half, Farrell kicked Wigan further ahead. It was his pass that sent Tony Smith through a gap and when David Boyle was sin-binned for holding down in the tackle, Farrell landed his third goal.

If anything, Bradford had more of the play in his absence, but Boyle was fortunate not to go off the field again for roughing up the recently arrived Wigan substitute, Lee Gilmour. The retribution was limited to another two points from Farrell's reliable boot.

Bradford had their best chance when Henry Paul got an acrobatic pass away to Warren Jowitt only for the Bradford substitute to knock on.

Farrell then hit the post with a drop goal attempt, but with the lightning flashing and rain pouring through the roof of the soon to be abandoned Central Park stand, Connolly made sure of the points.

The Great Britain centres' deceptive upper body strength was the key as he wrenched the ball out of the grasp of Nathan McAvoy to go over for a try which Farrell duly converted.

Wigan Warriors: Radlinski, Robinson, Connolly, Johnson, Moore, T Smith, Clinch, O'Connor, M Smith, Cowie, Cassidy, Betts, Farrell. Substitutes used: Mestrov, Goldspink, Gilmour.

Bradford Bulls: Withers, Vaikona, Naylor, McAvoy, Pryce, H Paul, R Paul, Anderson, Lowes, McDermott, Dwyer, Boyle, Forshaw. Substitutes used: Deacon, Fielden, Peacock, Jowitt.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).

n The Leeds forward Adrian Morley was sent off for the second time in three weeks as Halifax Blue Sox beat the Rhinos 21-20 at The New Shay last night. Morley, who was dismissed for punching after less than two minutes against St Helens in July, was given his marching orders for a headbutt on Paul Rowley.