Rugby League: Schuster consigns Northern to untimely defeat

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FOR Bradford Northern's hopes that Warrington would be top of the Stones Bitter Championship for just five hours to become reality they needed to win at Halifax last night. But Halifax's 27-18 win threw the title race even wider open. Bradford are now two points behind Wire with two games in hand with Wigan a further two points behind with another game in hand.

The home side were indebted to John Schuster, who scored two tries and kicked three goals, while John Bentley got the try of the night after a brilliant 80-metre dash. Paul Newlove replied with two tries and had another disallowed, but Bradford's efforts were not enough to regain their place at the top.

Halifax led 10-8 at the interval despite having Bentley and Paul Bishop sin-binned. After Deryck Fox had given Bradford an early lead with a penalty, Mark Preston touched down to score Halifax's first points. Newlove restored Northern's lead with his first try after a superbly judged kick by Fox, who added the conversion. But Halifax were back in front on the half-hour when Schuster followed up Bishop's huge kick to score.

It was Schuster again five minutes into the second half when he went over for his second try, before Bentley got in on the act.

Bishop, who also kicked a drop goal, turned the screw on Bradford with a try on the hour, Schuster adding his third goal. Bradford hit back with Newlove's second and an injury-time effort from Paul Medley. Fox kicked his third goal, but it was all too little, too late.