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Ninth-placed Bradford Bull welcomed Featherstone Rovers to their narrow Odsall pitch, off the back of  two narrow defeats, including a loss to Halifax Panthers, who played 79 minutes of the match with 12 men.

The visitors arrived unbeaten, amidst a flurry of speculation around the possible signing of former Wigan full back/centre Zak Hardaker, who the Cherry and Whites had released "to persue career options" in his home territory of West Yorkshire.

Of immediate interest, though, was the return of winter signing Jesse Sene-Lefao following an injury in the opening game of the season.

At stake were two vital league points - as well as the Peter Fox memorial trophy.

Given the pitch, drives up the middle were always going to be the dominant tactic - although Featherstone passed the ball in the opening set, they had had the advantage of the larger pack.

But it was the Bull who scored first after seven minutes when Matt Dawson-Jones was tackled into touch but managed to get get rid of the ball as he crossed the line.

It found its way Elliot Hall, who battled his way to the try-line to score. Dec Patton had no problem with the kick and the hosts led 6-0.

But Rovers bounced back. With the Bulls caught offisde in their own 10m, Ben Hellewell was on the end of superb pass to break the line and run clear to score. Craig Hall converted to level the scores at 6-6.

Hellewell scored his second try when he broke through the right edge of the Bradford line and again Hall made no mistake with a kick from near the touch line to give the visitors a 6-12 lead.

David Foggin-Johnson had the chance to level the scores just minutes later when Briscoe failed to collect a high kick and instead batted it back to bounce around in the in-goal. Foggin-Johnson - who had been competing with Briscoe for the kick - ran to ground it but somehow missed and the Rovers Craig Hall picked it up and ran clear.

But the Bulls had two more scoring chances in the next five minutes. But Sam Walters - at 6' 9" - either failed to get down to make contact with the ball or knocked on over the line.

The hosts continued to press and threaten the Rovers line, however, in a frantic close to the half and did cross in the 38th minute, only to be held up.

The Featherstone defence held strong to keep their 6-12 lead intact when the hooter sounded.

Bradford opened the second-half scoring after Mark Kheirallah failed to collect a high ball under pressure.

The loose ball bounced out to the left where Foggin-Johnson waited to collect it and dash to score in the corner with no defenders in front of him. Patton converted and the scores were level at 12-12.

But the Featherstone attack pressed to regain their lead and Mark Kheirallah got onto the end of a Jesse Sene-Lefao offload, unexpected by the Bradford defence.

The former Toulouse fullback powered through into space to score without challenge next to the posts. Hall converted and Rovers' six-point lead was restored at 12-18.

They extended it on othe 60m mark when Luke Briscoe broke free and ran clear only to trip himself. But he kept hold of the ball and on the next play stand-off Ryley Jacks ran clear down the touchline to score.

The conversion by Hall was almost inevitable and the score now stood at 12-24, with Rovers beginning to see daylight in their bid to return to the top of the Championship.

Fev were beginning to dominate and when Jack Bussey collected a loose ball in Bradford's red zone, but when the big forward powered the Bradford defence numbered up with three defenders pushing him over the line.

However, a magical off-load found Jacks, who had no problem scoring his second. Hall couldn't convert this chance, but Fev led 12-28.

But Bradford would not lie down. With the 70-minute mark approaching, Leeds loanee AJ Wallace scythed through on the right to narrow the gap to 16-28. Patton's drop-kick conversion made it a 10-point game at 18-28.

The Bradford defence was tiring though, and Jacks scored his hat trick when he ran onto a Brandon Pickersgill chip, chasing it to just before the deadball line where he gounded it. Hall's conversion attempt went across the face of goal.

At 18-32, Featherstone's victory was complete and secured them top spot in the table this week - with the second-half hat-trick by Ryley Jacks proving the icing on the cake.

Bradford, though, showed signs of better things to come after the disappointments of recent weeks.

Full Time: 18-32.

Half Time: 6-12.

Score Progression: 0-0, 4-0. 6-0, 6-4, 6-6, 6-10, 6-12. HT. 10-12, 12-12, 12-16, 12-18, 12-22, 12-24, 12-28, 16-28, 18-28, 18-32. FT.

Bradford Bulls: Hall (T); Dawson-Jones, Kear, Gill, Foggin-Johnston (T); Patton (3G), Lilley; Baldwinson, Doyle, Crossley, Murphy, England, Hallas. Subs: Wallace (T), B Evans, Kibula, Walters.

Featherstone Rovers: Kheirallah (T); Briscoe, Hall (4G), Hellewell (2T), Gale; Smith, Jacks (3T); Kopczak, Wildie, Lockwood, Bussey (T), Davies, Moors. Subs: Pickersgill, Cooper, Sene-Lefao, Mathiou.

Referee: James Vella.

Venue: Odsal Stadium, Bradford




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Posted by tb on Mon 25th Apr 2022 6:48 PM | Views : 37559 | Replies : 1 | BACK TO STORIES
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