Rugby League: Tough return for Newlove: Bradford prove themselves major challengers to champions as they take advantage of Currier's dismissal

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Featherstone Rovers. .16

Bradford Northern. . .42

THE HANDICAP of playing all but 15 minutes a man short was too much to overcome as Featherstone Rovers paid the price in an otherwise richly entertaining match for targeting their former player, Paul Newlove.

Night matches at Post Office Road are traditionally the sort of fixtures in which Championship contenders slip up, but it did not take Bradford Northern long to take control last night.

With their forwards running strongly and sparking so much invention outside them, Bradford hardly needed a numerical advantage, but they got one when Andy Currier was sent off after a late, high tackle on Newlove in the 25th minute.

Currier had already been sin-binned for holding down the former Rovers hero, now jeered on every touch of the ball on his first return to play at Featherstone.

Within a minute of returning, Currier floored Newlove after he had released the ball. There was little doubt that Currier's own brief return to the action was over.

Bradford had established their superiority before that. Neil Summers had pounced on David Watson's pass for one try and Watson himself had lunged over from acting half-back for another.

After Currier's dismissal, Watson released David Myers for a spectacular try-scoring run down the left wing.

Deryck Fox, as ever the oil that makes Bradford's engine run, contributed four goals in a stormy first half that also saw Bradford's Eugene Bourneville and Gary H Price of Featherstone sin-binned.

Featherstone had a try disallowed soon after the break when Price was pulled back for a forward pass. Undeterred, Price went over two minutes later after Mark Aston and Leo Casey set up the opportunity.

That was put firmly in context when Newlove went 60 yards for a superlative try, getting clattered after scoring by Neil Roebuck.

Featherstone continued to resist, with Gary H Price snatching a second try, but Bradford again wiped out the gain when Fox's short kick allowed Watson to score.

Steve Molloy re-emphasised Featherstone's second half improvement by barging over, before Paul Medley kept the entertainment flowing with another try for Bradford.

David Fraisse completed the try-scoring, swooping on a kick from Fox, who finished with seven goals.

Featherstone Rovers: Gibson; Senior, Currier, Calland, Butt; Pearson (Roebuck, 70), Ashton; Molloy (G S Price, 57), Gunn, Casey (Molloy, 63), Divet, G H Price, Roebuck (Southernwood, 57).

Bradford Northern: Watson; Hall, Fraisse (Newlove, 79), Newlove (Hepworth, 70), Myers; Summers, Fox; Powell, Hepworth (Donohue, 51), Bourneville (McDermott, 40), Dixon, Medley, Heron.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).