Rugby League: Fox too clever for Widnes

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The Independent Online
Bradford Northern. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21

Widnes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

THE THEORY that one man does not make a team is no doubt correct, but the return of Deryck Fox made all the difference to Bradford in their Regal Trophy third-round tie last night. During his five-week absence with a torn stomach muscle Bradford's season went into deep decline. With him back in harness at Bradford City's protected pitch, Northern were back in their November form.

It was not merely a matter of Fox doing all the right things. His presence brought back the confidence and sense of purpose that had been missing, which meant that a semi-final date against Castleford on 9 January was never in serious doubt. Not only did Fox's kicking and distributive skills revitalise Bradford, but the release of Dave Watson from emergency duties at half-back increased their attacking options.

Watson caused problems with several of his unpredictable runs and it was from one that Northern claimed their first points. His pass sent Karl Fairbank on the charge and when the Widnes captain, Paul Hulme, was harshly judged to have ripped the ball from him, Fox landed a simple penalty.

A dominant Bradford had other early chances, but they got further deserved points when David Heron found Fairbank and Darrall Shelford backed up to score, Fox adding the goal.

Widnes were hardly in it but would have scored from their first serious attack had David Hulme not knocked on with the line open after Bobby Goulding and Andy Currier had done the approach work. Bradford then gave them a lesson in opportunity-taking when a perfectly weighted grubber kick from Fox let Marchant dive in for the second try.

David Hobbs was penalised for a high tackle on Esene Faimalo, but Goulding missed a straight forward shot at goal. Emosi Koloto gave Widnes heart, however, when he forced his way over after good work by Julian O'Neill before half-time.

Fox cancelled some of that encouragement by dropping a goal as soon as the second half began, but Roy Powell was then sin- binned for holding down John Devereux and Currier obliged with the penalty. Bradford extended their lead again with a Fox penalty after Currier had gone high on the returned Powell. It had been Fox's raking touch- finder that had set up the position.

Fox landed his fourth place-kick on the hour after Paul Hulme was penalised for dissent. And fittingly it was Fox who put the match beyond doubt, ducking under tackles to score a try with 11 minutes to go. Widnes struck back with a Devereux touchdown after a clever chip- kick by Les Holliday but they had been well and truly out-foxed.

Bradford Northern: Watson; Marchant, McGowan, Shelford, Simpson; Summers, Fox; Hobbs (Medley, 61), Noble (Clark, 56), Hamer, Powell, Fairbank, Heron.

Widnes: Spruce (Hadley, 35; Spruce, 45); Myers, Currier, D Hulme (Hadley, 65), Devereux; O'Neill, Goulding; Sorensen (Koloto, 24), P Hulme, Faimalo, Moriarty, Eyres, Holliday.

Referee: I Ollerton (Wigan).