Whitehaven 16, Bradford Bulls 32
THE score-line didn’t do Whitehaven justice as they put-up a brave display against the full-time, ex-Super League outfit.
After 50 minutes Whitehaven were all square at 16-16 and seriously threatening to hand-out a king-size shock to their illustrious visitors.
In the end it was Bradford’s full-time know-how and fitness which told in the final 15 minutes and they were able to pull away to the 16-point victory.
But this was never a 16-point margin game and coach James Coyle was particularly pleased with the way his charges had tackled the mighty Bulls.
“I think it’s fair to say that this was our best display of the season and I feel very proud of how the players coped.
“We must be consistent and not let our standards slip now over what’s left of the season. The trouble is with playing teams like Bradford is that if you make mistakes and hand over the ball you expect to be punished by them,” he said.
The opening quarter of the game was ferociously contested with Whitehaven giving as good as they got, Tyla Hepi in particular catching the eye with the industry of his tackling.
Then suddenly Bradford were up and away with three tries in 13 minutes and Whitehaven looked in danger of being swamped. It was 16-0 and the home side could have been blown away.
Centre Adrian Purtell got in for two tries, one superbly converted from the touchline by Ryan Shaw. But it was the third touchdown which upset the Haven fans as referee Warren Turley allowed what seemed a blatant forward pass before Lee Gaskell crossed.
Haven were inspired by second-row Scott McAvoy as they roared back to 10-16 at the break.
McAvoy dived in at the Kells end to start the fight-back and Ed Chamberlain put over the conversion on 34 minutes. Five minutes later McAvoy tuned provider putting young Lee Holliday in for his first professional try.
At the start of the second-half it was all Whitehaven and for ten minutes they hammered the Bradford line, rewarded on 50 minutes when James Newton darted over from acting half-back. Chamberlain converted and the sides were level.
Bradford were shaken but to their credit they responded strongly, inspired by the influential Gaskell and prop Adam Sidlow who played for the whole 80 minutes.
Still Haven traded blow for blow but it was inevitable the effort would be a factor as Bradford’s full-time training came into play.
But it didn’t come until fourteen minutes from the end when Danny Addy got in for the try which edged Bradford back in front and Shaw converted.
Danny Williams went in for two tries in the 71st and 76th minutes, the second converted by Shaw and at 32-16 it represented a flattering victory for the visitors.
Haven: Lepori, Chamberlain, Holliday, Hulme, Calvert, Aiye, Gore, Davies, Coyle, Walker, McAvoy, Hepi, Allen. Subs (all used) Beaumont, Fox, Newton, Brooks.
Referee: Warren Turley
Pictures by MAL WALKER show Scott McAvoy scoring and Dion Aiye in typically aggressive mode.