Crusaders 26-30 Bradford

Bradford overcame a disappointing Crusaders outfit to claim their first win of the season in a scrappy encounter that was short on quality.

The match statistics will show that both side’s finished the match with five tries apiece but in reality the Bulls were deserving winners as the home side consistently coughed up possession and made a succession of unforced errors.

Bradford hit the front on 9 minutes with a try from Andy Lynch. The Bulls skipper collecting a short pass from Bryn Hargreaves before crashing over for his first try of the season.  

Crusaders replied through Michael Witt after 21 minutes, although they were given a helping hand as Bradford winger Shaun Ainscough made a mess of a tap restart. Witt linking up well with Lincoln Withers before taking advantage of some weak defence to touch down. 

However the home side bore little resemblance to the one that hammered Salford in the opening round and head coach Iestyn Harris will have been frustrated by their inability to retain the ball.

Witt and Stuart Reardon combined to prevent Gareth Raynor extending the visitors lead but Bradford would not to be denied for long.

Youngster Danny Addy‘s inside pass finding Shad Royston who wriggled out of two tackles to score on 28 minutes. The fullback claiming his first try since joining the club from Halifax during the close season.

The Bulls strengthened their advantaged with a try from Shaun Ainscough after 34 minutes. A quick game of pass the parcel on the last tackle ended with the former Wigan flyer touching down for a try on his debut to give the Bulls an 18-6 lead at the break.

If Harris and his assistant Barry Eaton hoped that their half time team talk would fire their charges into action then they were quickly disappointed. 

Matt Diskin, who could prove to be a fantastic capture for Bradford, burrowed over from a few yards out after 42 minutes to score his first try since his move from Leeds.

Crusaders did finally give their supporters something to cheer with a try from Gareth Thomas on 47 minutes. The 36-year-old showing excellent strength to hold off several defenders on his way to the try line.

There were faint signs of a comeback by the home side as Peter Lupton squandered a fantastic opportunity on 56 minutes with Jason Chan and Rhys Williams also going close.

But an error by Thomas on his own try line gifted a try to Heath L’Estrange. Video referee Ben Thaler taking his time before deciding to award the try despite the hosts claiming that the ball had been knocked on.

With the score now 30-10 in Bradford’s favour the contest looked as good as over but Crusaders scored three tries in the final ten minutes to restore some pride. 

The unusually quiet Jarrod Sammut squirmed his way over the whitewash on 69 minutes to give the home fans in a sparse crowd of 2,615 something to cheer.

Schifcofske then forced his way over the line with two minutes remaining to score after the video referee gave the veteran fullback the benefit of the doubt before Tony Martin crossed with seconds left on the clock for a try that was of little consolation to the Crusaders fans. 

Bulls coach Mick Potter will be concerned by his sides lack of concentration, particularly after their last gasp defeat to Leeds at Millennium Magic, but a more pressing worry is likely to be the loss of both Chev Walker and L’Estrange to nasty looking injuries.

Crusaders: Schifcofske, Reardon, Martin, Thomas, Williams, Witt, Sammut, O’Hara, Withers, Bryant, Lupton, Chan, Flower. Subs: Moore, James, Peek, Dudson.

Tries: Witt 21, Thomas 47, Sammut 69, Schifcofske 78, Martin 80.

Goals: Schifcofske 21, 69, 80.

Bradford: Royston, Ainscough, Platt, Ah Van, Raynor, Kearney, Addy, Hargreaves, L’Estrange, Lynch, Walker, Whitehead, Elima. Subs: Kopczak, Diskin, Scruton, Olbison.

Tries: Lynch 9, Royston 28, Ainscough 34, Diskin 42, L’Estrange 63.

Goals: Ah Van 9, 28, 34, 42, 63.

Referee: Richard Silverwood

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