Rugby League: Late misses prove costly for Broncos

Bradford Bulls 19 London Broncos 14
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The Bradford Bulls produced little of the dazzling rugby that has made visits to Odsal such an unexpected pleasure over the last year, but they showed the resilience that was needed yesterday to overcome a committed challenge from the Broncos.

London came back strongly at the end of a tough, gritty contest and would have got even closer to overhauling their hosts if their kicker, Greg Barwick, had not missed two comfortable conversions in the last few minutes.

Bradford opened the scoring after Graeme Bradley took them deep into London territory with a surging run down the right. When the ball was switched fluently across field, Steve NcNamara and Stuart Spruce linked up to create the space for Paul Loughlin to score.

Bradford were stretched when Matterson's high kick put Loughlin under pressure, two Broncos having the chance to get the vital touch on the loose ball but neither doing so to the referee's satisfaction.

Despite all London's territorial advantage it was Bradford who scored the next points, McNamara slotting over a penalty for interference at play-the-ball.

The London coach, Tony Currie, sprang a surprise by starting with Shaun Edwards at scrum-half, after saying that Josh White ''had a mortgage'' in the position and it was Edwards' kick that bounced perfectly for David Krause to charge through and touch down, Greg Barwick adding the goal to equalise.

After half an hour, however, Bradford reclaimed control. Bradley ran on to Glen Tomlinson's well-judged pass, splitting the defence and sending Sonny Nickle in for a converted try.

Immediately before half-time, the Bulls collected another six points when Paul Cook showed pace and trickery to cut in from the right wing and leave McNamara another easy kick.

White replaced Edwards at half-time and he went closest to making the breakthrough, but his awkward stabbed kick was dealt with expertly by Spruce. Almost as an afterthought McNamara capped Bradford's next attack with a drop goal to stretch their lead a little further.

White wriggled over but could not ground the ball. In the last 11 minutes, London finally broke the stranglehold. Danny Peacock's brilliant tackle on Roskell seemed to have denied them once again, but this time Bradford could not regroup in time to keep out Barwick who scored the try but missed the relatively easy kick.

That looked an expensive omission when David Krause and Paul Smith linked up to send in Matt Nable with six minutes left, Barwick missing again to leave the Broncos five points adrift.

Bradford Bulls: Spruce; Cook, Peacock, Bradley, Loughlin; Paul, Tomlinson; Anderson, Lowes, Reihana, Nickle, Knox, McNamara. Substitutes used: Christie, Wittenberg, Calland, Medley.

London Broncos: Barwick; Roskell, Tollett, Krause, Smith; Spencer, Edwards; Bowden, Beazley, Mestrov, Nable, Rosolen, Matterson. Substitutes used: White, Salter.

Referee: D Campbell (Widnes).