Great defence and seven tries sink the Bulls
Warrington Wolves 32 Bradford Bulls 4
By Alan Domville (photo courtesy of Neil Ashurst, P&B Pictures)
Back in Super League action after their runaway cup-tie win at Keighley, Warrington scored seven tries to Bradford's one to maintain their challenge at the top end of the table at the Halliwell Jones.
It was a gutsy display by the Wolves that also took them clear of the visitors who had been just a point behind in the table before the game.
Play-anywhere Simon Grix scored tries within the first and last 90 seconds of the match to crown another fine performance - and coincidentally Brett Hodgson's conversion attempts both struck an upright.
In between times Warrington conceded only one try and held out brilliantly in the third quarter when heavy rain prevented either side from completing a set of six for a full 10 minutes.
Tony Smith selected Danny Bridge and Glenn Riley in his match-day squad following their excellent debuts in the Challenge Cup tie at Keighley last week.
Back on duty after being rested for that match were Ben Westwood, Chris Hill, Stefan Ratchford and Paul Wood and so Garreth Carvell and Ben Harrison were given a break.
The head coach was unable to include Chris Bridge who limped off after scoring two tries against London Broncos on Easter Monday while Lee Briers and Adrian Morley continue their longer-term recoveries but hope to be back soon.
Bradford Bulls head coach Francis Cummins gave Ben Evans, on loan from the Wolves, his Super League debut following his good showing in the Challenge Cup win at Rochdale last weekend. He was also able to bring back Brett Kearney, Nick Scruton, Elliott Kear and Matt Diskin who were all rested for that match.
Out of action were goal-kicking winger Jamie Foster who ruptured a pectoral muscle at Rochdale, our own Matty Blythe who is with the Bulls for this seasonand is still recovering from a back injury, and Jamie Langley who was unable to make his 250th appearance for the Bulls also because of a strained hamstring.
Coach Cummins admitted before the game that he had learned much from Tony Smith when the Wolves head coach was at Leeds - but fortunately our man won the tactical battle on this day.
Warrington forced the first of four goal line drop outs in their opening set and from the return play Ben Westwood was able to send Grix, playing at right centre, over for his first touchdown.
Bulls' first attack was thwarted by a Ben Currie interception but a penalty was conceded; another interception, this time by Grix, kept the line intact.
A Myler up and under put Brett Kearney under pressure from Joel Monaghan and Bulls had to restart once again from under their sticks.
Good work by Currie and the irrepressible Micky Higham set up a scoring opportunity again for the Wolves and Stefan Ratchford's neat kick ahead was chased by Currie who touched down. Hodgson converted and it was 10-0.
Westwood, Trent Waterhouse and Chris Hill each conceded penalties near to their own line to put their side under pressure and it was no surprise when the line was finally breached by the strong running Adrian Purtell.
Jarrod Sammut, a thorn in the Warrington side all afternoon, missed the conversion.
Bradford were back on the attack again when Hodgson was unable to prevent the ball and himself going into touch but Myler saved the situation with a smart interception.
Westwood collected a loose ball, kicked ahead and forced another goal-line drop-out for the visitors.
Myler and Hodgson then combined beautifully to send Chris Riley over in his corner with just two minutes to go before half time.
With 20 seconds left a high tackle on Myler gave Warrington a penalty on the half way line and Joel Monaghan was given an opportunity to land a long distance goal and the ball only just went wide of the mark.
Warrington had been clearly the best side in the first period but had been made to work hard for their lead.
Rain swirled around the ground throughout the interval and made handling so difficult when the teams resumed.
Michael Monaghan almost put Ratchford over and the former was then tackled just short of the line. Bradford were now on the back foot and on 52 minutes a kick to the corner by Myler was fielded superbly by Joel Monaghan who was able to touch down inches from the touch-in-goal line.
Hodgson missed another conversion attempt but the try was the game-breaker and as the rain relented Warrington assumed complete control.
Good hands saw Myler held just short and Paul Wood was causing all sorts of problems for the visitors' defence.
A kick through by Hodgson spelled more danger for Bradford but Elliot Kear was able to collect the ball in the goal area.
After Sammut failed to play the ball correctly Warrington swept back on to the attack and a Ratchford grubber forced another Bradford kick from their own line.
With 10 minutes to go and Bradford visibly tiring Chris Riley made a splendid break. Myler was held just short of the line once again but on the next play Chris Hill was able to storm over.
Hodgson added the extras to make it 24-4.
On the next play Ryan Atkins burst through, put Myler on his way to the line and was there to accept the latter's pass to complete the scoring move.
The knife went further into the wound when Heath L'Estrange knocked on. From the scrum 25 metres out quick hands saw Grix cap his display with his second try.
Tenacious Warrington had kept their line intact for yet another 40-minute half and made the most of the opportunities that came their way thanks to some tremendous handling.
Brett Hodgson; Chris Riley, Simon Grix, Ryan Atkins, Joel Monaghan; Stefan Ratchford, Richie Myler; Mike Cooper, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Westwood, Ben Currie
Substitutes: Michael Monaghan, Paul Wood, Glenn Riley, Danny Bridge
Tries: Grix (2), Currie, C Riley, J Monaghan, Hill, Atkins
Goals: Hodgson (2)
Brett Kearney; Elliot Kear, Adrian Purtell, Keith Lulia, Michael Platt; Jarrod Sammut, Luke Gale; Nick Scruton, Heath L'Estrange, Manase Manuokafoa, John Bateman, Elliott Whitehead, Chev Walker
Substitutes: Adam Sidlow, Danny Addy, Ben Evans, Matt Diskin
Game pictures below (courtesy of Bob Brough)
28, Apr, 2013