Rugby League: London inflict second defeat on Bradford

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The Independent Online
Bradford Bulls ended their Championship season with a second consecutive defeat just a week after they were heading for an unprecedented 100 per cent Super League record. Following their home defeat by Wigan last Monday, Bradford suffered their first away loss, 28-24 to second-plaved London Broncos.

A see-saw match came to a dramatic climax. London went ahead on the hour when Tony Martin picked up Shaun Edward's diagonal kick and touched down in the corner. The conversion was missed, and when with 10 minutes to go Steve McNamara kicked a penalty after Kim Howard was pulled out for a high tackle, the scores were level.

Bradford twice tried to win the game with field goals but the first effort from McNamara drifted wide and the second was blocked at the point of impact. London made Bradford pay for those misses when Martin Offiah went over for what turned out to be the game winning score.

Salford staged a rousing second-half comeback, scoring 23 unanswered points, for a 37-18 that prevented their opponents Halifax jumping above them into sixth place in the final Super League table.

Halifax were in control before the break and were full value for their 18-14 interval lead but had little answer to the home side in the second half, with the Salford centre Nathan McAvoy scoring a hat-trick. The 20-year-old grabbed two tries courtesy of passes from centre partner Scott Naylor with a third from Mark Lee's kick. Blakeley converted all three to make it 32-18 before Naylor put Fata Sini over and Lee's late dropped goal was the icing on the cake for the rampant Reds.

Relegated Oldham signed off from Super League with a 20-14 win against Warrington but it was too little too late at the end of a traumatic season.

Tries by Howard Hill, Paul Davidson and Ian Russell, plus four goals by Francis Maloney were enough to send the fans home satisfied, if not exactly happy at the club's future prospects.

Neither side had much to play for but Oldham showed far more commitment than in certain other games this season.

Warrington were hardly in contention in the first half when Oldham adapted far better to the driving rain and slippy conditions and led 10-6 at half- time, Willie Swann having reduced the home lead on the stroke of half- time when he slid over in the corner.

Oldham's Ian Russell pushed through tackles by Tony Tatupu and Warren Stevens to score the home side's third try. Warrington hit back with two tries by winger Salesi Finau but a couple of penalty goals by Maloney kept the relegated side in front.

STONES SUPER LEAGUE PREMIERSHIP Preliminary round draw: Leeds v Oldham; Salford v Paris St-Germain; Halifax v Castleford; Sheffield v Warrington. (Ties to be played on 7 Sept. Bradford, London Broncos, St Helens and Wigan receive byes into the quarter-finals 14 Sept).