Newcastle Thunder brought the curtain up on Magic Weekend in the city with a big win over Bradford at Kingston Park.
The Super League event will be taking place at St James’ Park this weekend, with three games on both Saturday and Sunday.
Newcastle made four changes to the side that was beaten at Featherstone last week. Isaac Nokes, Connor Bailey, Nathan Wilde and Ellis Robson all came out of the side. Jake Shorrocks returned from suspension, while Umyla Hanley, Jay Chapelhow and Brad Gallagher returned to the side.
Meanwhile, Bradford made two changes to the side that was beaten by Leigh in their last game. Ebon Scurr and Joe Burton came out of the side, while Ben Evans and Dan Fleming came into the side. It was Mark Dunning’s first game since taking permanent charge.
Before the match got underway, both sides held an impeccably observed minutes silence in memory of Ben Woods, brother of Thunder player Josh, who sadly passed away whilst on holiday in Cyprus.
It was the Thunder who got off to the perfect start. With just over two minutes on the clock, Woods aimed a brilliant cutout pass to Jack Johnson, who was able to score out wide. Jake Shorrocks scored the conversion from the touchline to open up a six-point lead.
The hosts then doubled that lead with only seven minutes gone. After Johnson was stopped short, Josh Eaves went from dummy half and managed to score. Shorrocks was again successful with the conversion to continue Newcastle’s dream start.
Newcastle were then dealt a blow a few minutes later. Alex Foster was sent to the sin bin for pushing the referee out of the way, as he went to defend the Thunder line.
However, whilst Newcastle were still a man down, they added to their lead. Shorrocks kicked a penalty after Bradford gave away a penalty 30 metres out.
Bradford needed to score next, and they did just before the half-hour. They worked the ball well out of the left-hand side and Ryan Millar was able to dive over in the corner. Dec Patton could not add the conversion, meaning the deficit stood at 10 points.
The Bulls then recorded back-to-back tries to thrust themselves right back into the contest. David Foggin-Johnston beat Craig Mullen to the ball in the air, and managed to run over unopposed. Patton added the conversion to bring them back within a try.
But the pendulum would swing Newcastle’s way again before the break. Shorrocks got the ball close to the line, and managed to throw a dummy to open a gap and score himself. He was then able to convert his own try.
Newcastle then extended that lead with the last play of the first half. Woods threw another brilliant pass out wide, this time to Sam Halsall, who did the rest and went over. Shorrocks could not convert this time.
HT- Newcastle 24-10 Bradford
Newcastle started the second half in the same way they started the first. Johnson got free again down the left-hand side, and went over for his second try. Shorrocks was also back on target with the conversion.
Things got even better for Newcastle, as they claimed their second try of the second half 13 minutes in. Brad Day came onto a short ball, and managed to crash over. Shorrocks added the conversion once again.
Just before the hour, the hosts grabbed their seventh try. They came down the right-hand side this time, and Craig Mullen was able to put Gideon Boafo over in the corner. Shorrocks couldn’t convert this time, but Newcastle had 40 points on the board.
Newcastle were truly able to rub salt in the wounds a few minutes later. Woods added a drop-goal to stretch their lead to 31 points.
The scoring wasn’t done there either for the hosts. This time, Foster was able to bump off a tackle, and find a gap by the line to score. Shorrocks was back on target with the conversion this time.
Everyone wanted to get in on the act for Newcastle, and they added a ninth try with 12 minutes on the clock. Tom Forber went himself from dummy half to score his first try for the club on loan from Wigan. Shorrocks added his eighth goal of the night.
When the full-time siren went, all of the Newcastle side went and embraced Woods and celebrated the win with him. He was selected as Man of the Match on Premier Sports.
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FT- Newcastle 53-10 Bradford
Newcastle: Mullen, Boafo, Halsall, Hanley, Johnson, Shorrocks, Woods, Roberts, Eaves, J.Chapelhow, Foster, Day, Peachey. Subs: Clark, Ta’ai, Gallagher, Forber.
Tries: Johnson (2), Eaves, Shorrocks, Halsall, Day, Boafo, Foster, Forber
Goals: Shorrocks 8/10, Woods (DG)
Bradford: Kear, Foggin-Johnston, Murphy, Gill, Millar, Patton, Lilley, Baldwinson, Doyle, Crossley, Kibula, Wallace, Hallas. Subs: Flanagan, B.Evans, Fleming, Walker.
Tries: Millar, Foggin-Johnston
Goals: Patton 1/2
Also in the Championship
Batley have kept up the pressure on the top two after beating Sheffield 20-18 at the Olympic Legacy Park.
It was a fast start from the Bulldogs. A double from Dale Morton either side of a Jonny Campbell try had them 12-0 up after 14 minutes.
Sheffield were able to hit back, with tries from Vila Halafihi and Blake Broadbent. Both of them were converted by Josh Gudzek, which levelled the game.
It looked like it would be level at half-time, but Ben White went over for the Bulldogs to put them back in front. Luke Hooley then added a penalty in the second half, which proved crucial.
Anthony Thackeray then struck for Sheffield to bring them back within two points, but they could not quite close the gap.