Leeds kept up their pursuit of St Helens at the top of the Super League table, but they did it the hard way after the Bulls roared back at them in the second half.
Two tries set up for Ryan Hall by Keith Senior and a couple of moments of brilliance from Rob Burrow were ultimately enough, but the Rhinos were given a scare by local rivals looking to complete a double over them. "Rob's had a couple of injury concerns this year, but he's getting better all the time," said his coach, Brian McClennnan. "He's so quick and dangerous."
Bradford's Steve McNamara also identified Burrow as a key factor in denying his side. "They've got that special ability in their side," he said. "Rob Burrow is a super little player and he found the chink in us. But we came back from 18-2 and should have won that game. Sometimes you don't get what you deserve."
A philosophical divide between the sides was visible from the first five minutes. Presented with a penalty in front of the sticks, the Bulls opted to kick for goal.
In an identical situation, Leeds ran the ball and got their reward when Senior slipped out a sublime little back-hand flick to give Hall his 16th try of the Super League season.
Number 17 was not far behind. Sam Burgess lost the ball in a tackle and Brent Webb and Senior created the space for Hall to demonstrate his finishing skills once more.
Leeds looked in a mood to punish any mistake and they did so again when Paul Sykes knocked on. They worked the ball to the other end, forced two repeat sets and finally claimed a try, thanks to the fastest and flattest of short balls from Burrow to Jamie Jones-Buchanan.
It took an extraordinary try to renew Bradford's stake in the game. Ben Jeffries hit Semi Tadulala with a long pass on the left touchline and the Fijian cut in at the steepest of angles to score almost as wide out on the right.
Leeds accepted a kick at goal just before half-time to finish a half they had dominated with a ten-point lead.
The Bulls, however, were right back in the game when Paul Deacon sneaked over from dummy half and added his third goal. Then, on their next attack, Steve Menzies went over.
Leeds were level when Scruton went high on Jamie Peacock, before Burrow burst through to put the Rhinos back in front. They were sweating when Rikki Sheriffe had a try disallowed when Burrow's tackle was ruled to have taken him into touch, but Lee Smith's drop-goal clinched it and Scott Donald's last-minute try flattered them.
Leeds: Webb; Donald, Smith, Senior, Hall; McGuire, Burrow; Leuluai, Buderus, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield. Substitutes used: Lauitiiti, L Burgess, Gibson, Bailey.
Bradford: Halley; Sheriffe, Sykes, Nero, Tadulala; Jeffries, Deacon; Scruton, Newton, Lynch, Menzies, S.Burgess, Langley. Substitutes used: Kopczak, Worrincy, Cook, Whitehead.
Referee: P Bentham (Warrington).Reuse content