Donaldson expecting derby thriller

Bradford Bulls’ teenage star James Donaldson is expecting Sunday’s Engage Super League derby against Leeds Rhinos at Grattan Stadium to go right down to the wire.

The great rivals both go into the most eagerly-anticipated derby for years in hot form and Donaldson is acutely aware that it will take a fully committed and focused performance over the full 80 minutes to secure victory.

“It’s a massive game for both teams, this is a match everyone wants to win,” said Donaldson. “It’s probably the biggest match of my career and I can’t wait for it.

“We both go into the games on the back of victories and it’s going to be a cracker. We know we have to be at our best from kick off to the final hooter to win this one, and the same goes for Leeds.

“They’re a very dangerous team with quality player in every position. It’s going to be tough but they’re the champions and to be the best you have to beat the best.”

Bradford let slip a 16-6 lead against the Rhinos to draw 20-20 in April and the 18-year old is hoping to make up for that disappointment when they take to the field on Sunday.

“We were very disappointed, it hit us hard but it was a real learning curve for me as I didn’t have my best game, but I’m still young and learning,” said Donaldson.

“We’ve got a bit of form heading into the game. We had a dip against Crusaders, but we have won four out of our last five games, so we will head into the game with confidence.”

After making his breakthrough with the Bulls squad last year, Donaldson has found himself locked in a battle with fellow young gun Elliot Whitehead for the second row berth and is determined to secure a regular starting spot next to Australian veteran Steve Menzies.

“There’s always competition between me and Elliot but obviously it’s my aim to be in the starting team and I’ve just got to keep pushing for a place,” said the Cumbrian teenager, who has worked closely with Bulls coach Steve McNamara since joining the club from Wath Brow Hornets.

“Steve has been massive for my progression. He’s always tipping me up, making sure I’m in the right position at the right time and that has been a real positive for me.”

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