Rugby League: Gateshead's charge halted by Bradford

Bradford Bulls 30 Gateshead Thunder 14

AS ALWAYS seemed inevitable, Gateshead's drive for a top-five place ran out of fuel at Odsal last night. The last thing you need after a week as busy as theirs is to face Super League leaders who are fresh, pretty much back to full strength and eager to show that, whatever Bradford City might do, they still have their own claim to being the City's premier sporting attraction.

Gateshead, even with nine wins from their last 10 games, looked up against it from the start. They had already had one escape, Paul Anderson being denied a try for offside as James Lowes kicked through, before Bradford took the lead.

Steve McNamara set it up with an accurate kick to the corner, Michael Withers rising above Ian Herron to claim the ball and touch down.

The Thunder had only isolated moments of attacking promise, but they got on the scoreboard when Herron put over a penalty for offside.

Eight minutes before the break, a quick tap penalty from Henry Paul saw his brother Robbie, making a tentative reappearance after his foot injury, release David Boyle, who forced his way over for McNamara to convert.

Deon Bird touched down for Gateshead before half-time, but Herron had clearly impeded Leon Pryce in the build-up and Gateshead could be relieved to be only eight points behind.

A precision kick drilled through by Henry Paul gave Pryce the chance to pounce for the ninth try of his impressive rookie season two minutes in the second half, with Henry Paul adding the conversion and a penalty after Kerrod Walters had clashed with Lowes.

Gateshead briefly threatened a fight back when Matt Daylight stole Will Robinson's high kick out of Withers' hands, but yet another try came from a kick when Pryce leapt for his second from Robbie Paul's big punt forward.

With Walters directing their attacks, Gateshead still showed defiance, but when he and Bird were guilty of losing possession Nathan McAvoy went down the wing and Lowes scored from close range.

Willie Peters and Tony Grimaldi sent Herron away for a Thunder try three minutes from time. Boyle got his second from Henry Paul's kick in the last minute and while Gateshead had shown commendable fight they face a battle to keep ahead of Castleford in the race for the play-offs.

Bradford Bulls: Spruce; Vaikona, Naylor, Withers, Pryce; H Paul, R Paul; Fielden, Lowes, Anderson, Boyle, Forshaw, McNamara. Substitutes used: Jewitt, McDermott, McAvoy, Dwyer

Gateshead Thunder: Sammut; Herron, Grogan, Simon, Daylight; Robinson, Peters; O'Neill, Jenkins, Felsch, Wilson, Grimaldi, Bird. Substitutes used: Walters, Maiden, Maher, Carvell.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).

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