Bradford 38 Widnes 26: Bulls boost play-off credentials after mauling Warriors
16:53 GMT, 5 August 2012
Battling Bradford gave warning that they have not given up on a top eight place in the Stobart Super League with a 38-26 victory over struggling Widnes.
The cash-strapped Bulls recently suffered a triple blow to their play-off hopes through back-to-back defeats against Leeds and Warrington either side of a six-point deduction by the Rugby Football League for entering administration.
But, having put together three wins on the trot immediately before that, the seven tries to five success over the Vikings keeps alive the Yorkshire side's hopes of reaching the end of season shoot-out for the first time in four years.
Widnes, who had won two of their previous four games while pushing St Helens and Hull KR close, remain second from bottom of the table, just two points above basement club London Broncos.
As torrential rain swept down on Odsal the Bulls were forced to dig deep and come from 16-4 down midway through the first half.
The visitors made a strong start with two tries, both converted by Rhys Hanbury, in the opening 10 minutes.
Former Bradford winger Patrick Ah Van latched onto a long pass from Cameron Phelps and dived into the corner to put the visitors ahead.
Hep Cahill then sent Ben Davies charging through the middle and his momentum, on the rain soaked turf, took him over the whitewash to score.
Bradford hit back almost immediately with some swift handling freeing Michael Platt up to cross, although Luke Gale failed to emulate his opposite number with the conversion.
Danny Craven capitalised on a Bulls handling error and dummied his way to the line to restore Widnes' 12-point advantage before three tries in 12 minutes put the Bulls ahead for the first time.
Brett Kearney, Shaun Ainscough and Ben Jeffries – his 100th touchdown in club rugby – all crossed to leave the Bulls with a 22-16 lead.
But there was still time in a frenetic first half for Hanbury to twist his way over but the Vikings' half back's attempt to level things going into the break failed as he struck the near upright with his subsequent kick.
After registering 42 points in better than even time before the interval it took a further 18 minutes for the scoreboard to be called into action again.
Bulls skipper Heath L'Estrange finally broke the deadlock, forcing his way over from dummy half for his first try of the season.
L'Estrange was also involved as Michael Platt extended the hosts' lead four to 12 points shortly afterwards but Ah Van gave Widnes hope with a second try near the corner flag, taking over the kicking to convert his own score and reduce the deficit to 32-26.
Jeffries had a drop-goal charged down and Kearney saw a try disallowed for offside, following another attempt at a one-pointer from Gale, before Ainscough's second try secured the win and two vital league points, Gale finishing with five goals from seven attempts.