Bradford Bulls 28 – 46 Sheffield Eagles – Match Report

Mark Aston’s side ended their run of four successive league defeats with an emphatic 28-46 victory over Bradford at Odsal.

Three tries in succession during the second half were pivotal for the Eagles as they opened up a twenty-two-point lead with Mark Mexico, Duane Straugheir scoring before Ryan Millar finished off a brilliant team try. George Tyson also scored late on.

Garry Lo managed to grab a length of the field effort in the opening stages of the second half. Millar’s first and Elliot Minchella’s try gave the Eagles the lead at half-time after Cory Aston started the first half fightback with his interception.

Bradford had taken the lead with two early tries from Danny Addy and Lee Gaskell. Omari Caro got the Bulls back into the game in the second half but by the time James Clare and Kris Welham crossed their tries were nothing more than consolation.

Aston had swapped the side around after a poor Easter period which involved defeats to both Featherstone and Dewsbury. Experienced players Rob Worrincy, Mitch Stringer and Michael Knowles all dropped from the side whilst Dave Hewitt missed out due to injury. Garry Lo, Rhys Jacks and Jack Blagbrough all returned for the Eagles.

James Lowes also made changes to his Bradford side who had only won on of their last six games. Adrian Purtell returned to scrum-half as well as Kris Welham returning to centre and Oscar Thomas replacing Richie Mathers. Etu Uaisele and Jean-Philippe Bail dropped from the side along with Matty Blythe who remained injured.

The Bulls started on top and an early forty-twenty from Lee Gaskell gave the home side an opportunity to open the scoring which they did as Addy crashed over from close range.

Gaskell was central to the Bulls’ second as he slotted through a grubber kick which he collected himself and slid in under the posts.

However just as it looked Bradford may start to extend their lead Adrian Purtell’s pass inside his own half was intercepted by Aston who raced to the line from 20 metres out to get the Eagles on the scoreboard.

Sheffield managed to continue to turn the momentum of the game in their favour and interchange Mark Mexico got a hand free before offloading to Minchella who finished. Aston’s conversion drew the visitors level.

But the Eagles weren’t done as they piled more pressure on the Bradford line and eventually earned the lead on the hooter. An accurate looping pass from QLT found young winger Millar who pulled out an amazing one-handed finish under pressure from three defenders in the corner. Aston again converted from touchline to give the Eagles a six-point lead at the break.

The Eagles carried on just as they’d left off in the first half when Lo scored a brilliant solo effort. Gaskell’s cross-field kick was collected by Lo on his own line before the Papua New Guinean ran the length of the field and finished despite Caro’s best efforts. Aston missed the conversion but followed up with a successful penalty goal a few minutes later.

However Gaskell’s next cross-field kick proved profitable for Bradford as Caro climbed above Millar to close the Eagles lead. But Sheffield didn’t let this or kicking the ball out on the full from kick-off affect them as they followed up to score three tries in unanswered tries.

Mexico was first to cross as he threw a dummy and strolled over from yards out on the back of Aston’s one-on-one rip from Oscar Thomas. QLT would follow this with a break from deep before finding Millar who was brought down. However a quick play-the-ball allowed Rhys Jacks to find Straugheir out wide who went in untouched.

The game was sealed for the Eagles when Tyson threw the ball out wide to Menzie Yere deep in his own half however Yere powered around Clare and fended him off before finding an onrushing Millar. The youngster sprinted the final 60m to finish off an unbelievable Sheffield try under the posts.

Late on Bradford managed to cross out wide through Clare however Sheffield quickly cancelled it out when Tyson powered his way over in the corner. Welham would finish the scoring off for Bradford but it was nothing but a consolation for the home side.

Sheffield face a trip to Oldham next week who managed to pull of an upset against Batley whilst Bradford travel to Dewsbury to face the side who knocked them out of this seasons Challenge Cup.

Bradford: Thomas, Caro, Clare, Welham, Campbell; Gaskell, Purtell; Clough, O’Brien, Crossley, Haggerty, Ferguson, Addy.

Interchanges: Olbison, Pitts, Fleming, Clark.

Sheffield: QLT, Lo, Yere, Tyson, Millar; Aston, Jacks; Thorpe, Carlile, Neal, James, Straugheir, Fozard.

Interchanges: Blagbrough, Mexico, Wheeldon, Minchella.

Referee: B. Thaler Attendance: 4234

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