Rugby League: Fox gives Widnes the run-around

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The Independent Online
Widnes. . . . . . . . . 12

Bradford Northern. . . .24

AN inspired second-half performance from a side recently associated with perspiration rather than inspiration brought Bradford a memorable win at Widnes.

Trailing 6-2 after a first 40 minutes characteristised by admirable tackling from both teams, Bradford cut loose in a way that suggested they will surprise a number of opponents this season.

With their expensive new signing, Deryck Fox, settling contentedly into his job as the game went on, Bradford also demonstrated the ability to destroy a defence with a swift thrust.

Their first two tries came from spectacular breakaways from deep in their own half, but that is a potentially misleading fact, because Bradford dominated most of the 25 minutes that separated them and would have had more points but for some handling lapses and sturdy defence near the Widnes line.

The first breakthrough came from an ambitious pass thrown by the Widnes captain, Paul Hulme, one which would certainly have produced a try for his side if it had reached Adrian Hadley as intended. Instead, Gerald Cordle picked it off and went the full 100 yards for the try.

David Hobbs missed the conversion and the scores remained level until the 67th minute, by which time Widnes were showing signs of having weathered Bradford's pressure.

Jonathan Davies seemed to have decided on a 35-yard drop goal as the best means of edging in front, but then dummied and tried to chip over the defensive line. That was asking for rather a lot of time and space in a game which had produced such alert defence and the Bradford substitute, Paul Medley, duly charged down the kick and beat Davies on a 70-yard race to the try-line - perhaps the only forward in the British game who could have done so.

Any hopes of a Widnes comeback were snuffed out when Roy Powell got his pass away to Roger Simpson for a third Northern try. The increasingly influential Fox then worked a run-around move with David Heron for Tony Marchant to complete Widnes's embarrassment.

It was all so different during a first half in which the old firm of Tony Myler and David Hulme at half-back had looked likely to give Widnes a crucial edge. It was the combination of those two crafty veterans that sent Richard Eyres in for a 35th minute try that was a fair reflection of the first half.

From then until David Hulme's effort in injury-time, however, it was all Bradford and they thoroughly deserved a remarkable fifth victory in their last six visits to Naughton Park. Their reputation for dour rugby will not survive many performances like this.

Widnes: Davies; Devereux, Spruce, Wright, Hadley; Myler, D Hulme; Sorensen (Faimalo, 20), P Hulme, Howard (Sorenson, 60), Moriarty, Eyres (McCurrie, 73), Holliday.

Bradford Northern: Simpson; Cordle, McGowan, Shelford (Clark, 73), Kebbie; Marchant Fox; Hobbs (Medley, 57); Noble, Hamer, Powell, Fairbank, Heron.

Referee: J Holdsworth (Kippax).