Scales tips the balance

Bradford Bulls 28 Leeds 6; Challenge Cup semi-final: Bradford in bullish mood as they cruise through to Wembley
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The Independent Online
THERE are few more satisfying moments for a professional sportsman than to score against the club which discarded you. When you achieve the feat three times, as Jonathan Scales did yesterday, and the reward is a trip to Wembley, the Bradford wing could be forgiven if he broke into a wry smile.

On an afternoon when the current Leeds team was weighed against the calibre of players they have let go, and were found wanting, Scales hit his former club with three tries to take Bradford to the final for the first time in 23 years. "He was signed before I arrived in the summer," Brian Smith, the Bradford coach, said. "It was a case of us wanting him and them undervaluing him. I'm very glad now that they did."

But if it was a match-winning display by a winger who achieved little during his time at Headingley, then Scales owed much of his impact to the combination of Jeremy Donougher and Paul Loughlin that was simply too powerful for Leeds to handle. Twice in the first 10 minutes, the big Australian second row and the almost equally imposing centre, who moved to Bradford in part exchange for Paul Newlove, ripped Leeds apart down the left flank of the Alfred McAlpine Stadium.

Both times Scales finished the move off in unarguable manner and both times another former Leeds player, the full-back, Paul Cook, landed his goals from wide angles.

When Matt Calland, a surprise inclusion after being suspended for the last three months, tore through some poor tackling by shell-shocked Leeds for a third try after only 12 minutes, it looked as though Bradford would have their appointment with St Helens on 27 April confirmed while the afternoon was still young.

Their only real failing was that they neglected to take a series of other promising chances. Even after Francis Cummins hit back for Leeds, scoring from a move straight from the scrum base, Bradford had wonderful opportunities from breaks by Cook and Paul Medley, yet another Leeds old boy who threatened to charge through and score with his first touch of the ball after coming on as substitute.

Leeds were indeed fortunate to be only 12 points in arrears at the interval and when Jason Donohue was sin-binned for interfering at the play-the- ball and Graham Holroyd kicked the resulting penalty, there were hints of a fight-back. But, with Donohue still off the pitch, Bradford worked the oracle on the left again, the man of the match Donougher once more opening up the defence and finding Loughlin on his shoulder.

Scales covered the last 10 yards to the line on his chest, sliding over for the decisive try despite two Leeds tacklers clinging to him.

Simon Knox, returned from the bench, took Calland's pass for Bradford's fifth try. The goal and a subsequent penalty for Cook gave him four for the match.

Apart from the mighty Donougher and the ecstatic Leeds contingent, Bradford had outstanding performers in their scrum-half and 20-year-old captain, Robbie Paul, who showed up Leeds' lack of direction from half back, Graeme Bradley and Brian McDermott.

The Leeds coach, Dean Bell, admitted that his side had been found badly wanting. The best that could be said of Leeds, turned away on the threshold of a third successive Wembley appearance, was that forwards like Neil Harmon, Harvey Howard and Adrian Morley maintained their effort to the very last. But, when it came to inspiration, Bradford had a monopoly.

Bradford Bulls: Cook (Longo, 68); Christie, Calland, Loughlin, Scales; Bradley, Paul; McDermott, Donohue, Fairbank (Knox, 58), Donougher, Nickle, Knox (Medley, 28).

Leeds: A Gibbons (Golden, 29); Fallon, Iro, Cummins, Hassan; Mann (Gibbons, 72), Holroyd; Harmon, Shaw, Howard, Morley, Field (Schultz, 27), Forshaw (Field, 51).

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).