Rugby League: Lowes helps Bradford to keep record

Bradford Bulls 24 Castleford Tigers 22
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JAMES LOWES' 100th try of an eventful career rescued an unbeaten home record stretching back almost a year and preserved Bradford's lead at the top of Super League last night.

The Bulls showed the resilience and character of champions to snatch and hold the lead in the last 10 minutes after trailing virtually throughout. As their pressure became more and more insistent, Jamie Peacock had a try disallowed, Paul Anderson and Brian McDermott went within inches of scoring and, finally, Lowes plunged over for one of the most significant of his try century.

Castleford finished against Wigan last week like potential champions themselves and carried that on into this match with two tries in the first 11 minutes.

Incisive and inventive from the start, they struck first when Danny Orr switched play from dummy half and Jason Flowers put Richard Gay through a gap with a pass that looked forward to the Bradford fans but which was probably just about legal.

There was no argument about the second, Adrian Vowles' long pass again opening up Bradford down the right and Gay's clever kick and regather releasing Orr, who added two far from simple conversions to give Castleford a marvellous start.

Bradford managed some fine handling of their own, Lowes, Paul Deacon and Steve McNamara combining to send Nathan McAvoy over for a converted try.

Cas still looked dangerous every time they attacked, and a wonderful pass from Brad Davis to Francis Maloney paved the way for Gay's second, Orr this time improving from the touchline. The Bulls were hanging on to the Tigers' tail, but they responded again when Henry Paul's pass put Stuart Spruce through.

Bradford dominated the early stages of the second half and Lowes went perilously close to a try when he lost the ball trying to twist and touch down. Granted that reprieve, Cas got the benefit of another video referee's decision at the other end, Maloney just getting a hand to Aaron Raper's kick ahead of McAvoy.

For the third time in the match, back came Bradford, Paul scoring a wonderful individual try from a scrum after a Castleford knock-on.

Even after Lowes' winning try, Castleford came desperately close to regaining the lead, especially when Maloney broke through and failed to find the supporting Jon Wells.

Bradford: Spruce; Vaikona, Naylor, McAvoy, Pryce; H Paul, Deacon; Anderson, Lowes, Fielden, Dwyer, Forshaw, McNamara. Substitutes used: Jowitt, McDermott, Withers, Peacock.

Castleford: Flowers; Gay, Eagar, Maloney, Rogers; Orr, Davis; Sampson, Raper, Sykes, Harland, Fritz, Vowles. Substitutes used: Tallec, Hepi, Smith, Wells.

Referee: John Connolly (Wigan).