Rugby League: McNamara rouses Bradford

Bradford 38 Hull 18
Click to follow
Bradford 38 Hull 18

BRADFORD DRAGGED themselves back from the brink of a deepening crisis, making sure of a vital victory in the last few minutes of a stirring battle at Odsal, writes Dave Hadfield.

If the score line suggests that this win, only the Champion's third in eight games, was a comfortable affair, then it is lying through its teeth. It was only three late tries that got Bradford off the hook after they had trailed 12-0 early on.

That lead, made up of converted tries from Fili Seru and Jason Temu, came as Hull caught the Bulls cold. A defeat that would have thrown their play-off hopes into complete disarray beckoned and it was only the contribution of Steve McNamara that made the prospect recede. It was his perfect cross kick that enabled Tevita Vaikona to outjump Mark Johnson for Bradford's first points and he began his collection of seven from eight attempts with a conversion and a penalty.

Hull finished a torrid first half, which saw three players sin-binned, still six points ahead thanks to Steve Prescott's penalty, but the amount of defending they were having to do wasbound to wear them down.

It did so when McNamara's precise long pass sent Mike Forshaw racing through, and when some slick handling ended with James Lowes releasing Jon Scales for another try, it seemed the Bulls had finally broken stubborn opponents. But then Scales knocked on and a flowing move from the scrum base saw Alan Hunte send Johnson in at the corner.

That pointed to a nervous last 10 minutes for Bradford, but they defused that situation with a devastating burst of scoring to kill off a weary Hull. Robbie Paul went 40 yards to score from Lowe's pass, staying just out of the grasp of a string of tacklers, and Nathan McAvoy claimed his first try for the club when David Stephenson lost the ball near his line. Vaikona, like McNamara a former Hull player rounded it off with his second, going the length of the field with an interception from Brad Hepi.

Matthew Elliott was not fooled by the inflated score into thinking that Bradford were back to their best but he was pleased with the character his players showed. He said: "If we can add the execution to that character and fight I will be a lot more confident about making the top five."

Bradford: Spruce; Vaikona, McAvoy, Calland, Scales; Bradley, Paul; Reihana, Lowes, Harmon, Forshaw, Knox, McNamara. Substitutes used: Fielden, Deacon, Medley,Crouthers.

Hull: Prescott; Seru, Hunte, Campbell, Johnson; Lester, Murdock; Temu,Stephenson, Okesene, Craven, Schultz, Hepi, Substitutes used: Wilson, Ireland, Hallas, Busby.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).