Both sides started at 100 mph, chances a-plenty in the first 5 minutes. Bradford came close to scoring via Solomona before Hull broke and Yeaman left Iestyn Harris in a twist before offloading to Richard Swain who ran to the line to score a class try. Cooke converting made it 6-0 and a great start to Hull. Before you could say ‘forrward’ (well, 2 minutes to be exact!) Hull were in again when Sean Briscoe took advantage of McAvoys bungle and went over in the corner. Cooke unable to add the 2, his effort just drifting wide of the post.
Bradford kept cool to keep in the game thwarting some keen Hull attacks and went close themselves on 14 minutes, forcing Sid Domic to knock the ball dead. McAvoy coming up with another error after 19 minutes, knocking on in his own half…this looked ropey for Bradford but luckily for them Ben Harris came up with a ball steal to relieve the pressure. Despite being 10-0 down, the Bulls were building attack after attack but not making them count. A perfect illustration of this is when Hull got a penalty on 23 minutes, Solomona got the ball back, made a great break, passing to Deacon, only for Deacon to knock on a second later.
All this pressure had to tell, and it did when Evans scored on 26 minutes after a class break from Solomona on the left. Hull fans cries for a forward pass were duly ignored by the ref Ben Thaler. Deacon unable to add the extras: 10-4 to Hull FC. Anything Hull could do, so could the Bulls when they scored another after 2 minutes. This was a superb effort, involving a vintage Iestyn Harris dummy, pass to Newton and Newton away to score under the posts, easy conversion for Deacon and 10 all.
This game was being played at a ferocious pace and it was Hulls turn to step up to the mark. They responded with a good spell of pressure in the last 10 minutes of the first half. Chris McKenna being penalised for laying on after 36 minutes. Hull went for goal and Cooke duly obliged to send Hull into the lead 12-10. With seconds remaining, McKenna took advantage of a wobbly pass to break away and have options left or right…and promptly pass to no-one! Terry Newton was not a happy bunny at this golden opportunity wasted. Worse for Bradford, Solomona was binned for tackling Domic…when the ref had called held. Steve McNamara must have been tearing his hear out! Peter Sharp will have been the marginally happier of the two coaches as they went in at half time
The second half began as the first had finished, ie manic. The scoring was opened with a controversial try by Kirk Yeaman. Bradfords defence, assuming Briscoe had interfered with Michael Platt, simply stood by as he strolled over the line….Thaler awarding the try despite subsequent replays seeming to show Briscoe all over Platt.
Bradford did the wise thing after this and didn’t let it annoy them, instead getting stuck in and scoring themselves. Ben Harris chasing a great Deacon chip through to pounce on the ball and score. (after video ref decision) Deacons goal making it 16-16. What a game!
But it wasn’t over yet. With the Bulls on their fourth repeat set, Vagana scored a strong try despite 3 Hull defenders trying to stop him, spinning out of their tackling and plonking the ball down. This came at a crucial stage in the game. I don’t know about the players, but I was feeling knackered just watching this one.
The Bulls inability to kill the game off looked like it may come back to haunt them as Hull got stronger and Motu Tony went over on 68 for a well deserved try, Cookes kick making it all square: 22-22. A frenetic finale ensued and when Deacon knocked on, on 73 minutes, it looked a great opportunity for Hull to win it. Except that Cooke was deemed (perhaps harshly) to have knocked on at the scrum. Scrum to Bradford – a minute later James Evans was over the line to seemingly win the game. But no, Deacon missed the kick and Hull were still in it.
The last few minutes saw some desperate stuff from both sides, bodies were most definitely put on the line here and not until Andy Lynch burst through the Hull defence on 78 minutes did it look settled, which with Deacons kick it most certainly was.
An absolutely belting game. You just cannot beat Rugby League.