Report by Stephen Ibbetson | Article photo by Simon Hall
Bradford Bulls held on to secure a 26-16 win over Halifax RLFC in the Yorkshire Cup semi-finals at the Provident Stadium.
The Bulls led 10-0 before Steve Tyrer scored at the end of the first half, and the hosts scored three more in the second half before Jacob Fairbank and Chester Butler’s tries threatened a late comeback.
Halifax started as the better of the two sides, coming close to scoring when nice hands down the left between Tyrer and Shaun Robinson saw Tyrer go over the line, but the Bulls defence managed to prevent the ball being grounded.
Bradford grew into the game and scored the first try on 14 minutes. George Milton was initially held out a metre from the line, but the home side moved the ball left and a long cut-out pass found Ethan Ryan who spectacularly dived into the corner.
A late challenge from Ben Kavanagh on Jordan Lilley saw Fax go a man down for 10 minutes, and Bradford quickly took advantage as Joe Keyes slipped the ball to Elliot Minchella who went through the defence to score. Keyes added the extras to put the Bulls 10-0 in front.
However, Bradford were reduced to 12 players themselves when Lilley was sent to the bin for a swinging arm in the tackle. Halifax took advantage in the final minute of the first half, with Jordan Syme’s cut-out pass finding Tyrer to go over, and the centre added the conversion after the hooter to reduce the gap to four at the break.
Fax had the first chance of the second half with Ben Kavanagh held up over the line but, after Elliot Minchella had been stopped likewise at the other end, George Flanagan stormed through underneath the posts and Keyes added the simple goal to re-establish a 10-point gap.
Ed Barber became the third man to be sent to the sin bin in the game after tripping Lilley, and six minutes later the Bulls made that advantage count as Flanagan dummied and then spun through the tackle to ground the ball for his second. Lilley added the goal to make it 22-6.
Still a man to the good, the Bulls extended the lead further four minutes later, finding space in broken field down the left with Matty Storton driving forward and passing outside to Ross Oakes to cross, although Lilley’s conversion attempt this time came back off the post.
Halifax weren’t done just yet though, winning consecutive penalties close to the Bradford line and, straight from the second one, going over through Fairbank with Tyrer again adding the two points.
And with five minutes left on the clock, they reduced the gap further when Butler chased down a Bradford kick and carried 70m to reach the line. Tyrer slipped in taking the kick though, keeping the difference at 10 points.
Bradford: Stephenson; Rickett, Evans, Webster, Ryan; Keyes, Lilley; Wilson, Wildie, Magrin; Storton, Minchella, Milton.
Interchanges: Pickersgill, Oakes, Foggin-Johnston, Green, Flanagan, O’Sullivan, Bustin.
Tries: Milton (14’), Minchella (26’), Flanagan (45’, 58’), Oakes (62’)
Goals: Keyes (2/3), Lilley (1/2)
Halifax: Laulu-Togaga’e; Robinson, Tyrer, Butler, Sharp; Brook, Woodburn-Hall; Fleming, Moore, Kidd; Larroyer, Barber, Fairbank.
Interchanges: Kaye, Cooper, Saltonstall, Kavanagh, Morris, Syme, Davies.
Tries: Tyrer (40’), Fairbank (68’), Butler (75’)
Goals: Tyrer (2/3)