21st May 2018, 14:03
19S EXTEND WINNING RUN AFTER SCALPING NEWCASTLE THUNDER
Leigh Beattie's Bradford Bulls are now 3 games unbeaten as they move up to 6th in the Academy table - perhaps more impressive was the way they defended and kept Newcastle Thunder, to 0 in the 2nd half
Sparked by another Cobi Green masterclass, the young Bulls produced an assured and composed performance to get the better of a dogged Thunder side in the curtain raiser to the Magic Night Out.
The scoreline of 38-18 to Bradford, didn't do justice to the home side's application and effort, but they struggled to find their cutting edge in the second half, to get past a belligerent Bulls defence.
Newcastle opened the scoring in the third minute through Nat Kitching, as the forward powered through an Alix Stephenson tackle to get the ball down from close range.
Dan Coates converted to give the Thunder a 6-0 lead before a lengthy stoppage in play soon after saw Coates leave the field through injury.
After conceding the first points, the Bulls regrouped and were level after Ryan Leadbeater used all his evasive qualities to beat Mark McCallan and ground the ball in the corner.
Newcastle took less than three minutes to get back in front after the ball was spread wide for McCallan to gain revenge over Leadbeater and dive over past the Bradford winger in the corner.
The Bulls soon regrouped to level the scores after a long ball from Cobi Green allowed Leadbeater to drift outside McCallan, skip and turn into a gap and fly away in the corner.
Bradford had wrestled back the momentum and on the stroke of half-time, Stephenson gave the Bulls the lead following a Lochlan McGill break.
The Thunder defenders rushing back to stop McGill, but the ball was quickly loved from right to left and Stephenson skipped past two tacklers to score, before adding the extras to his own try.
After the interval, it was the home side that had the momentum now and a scoot from dummy half from Ryan Jones, followed by a penalty, put the Thunder deep in the Bradford half. They forced another set through a dropout as they looked to retake the lead.
And it looked like they had spotted an overlap with Tyler Walton hitting the line, but he was stopped in his tracks by a monster tackle from Matt Fletcher and Oliver Wilson.
Another set from a dropout saw Bradford face three back-to-back sets on their own line but where they had perhaps been shakey in the first-half, had fine tuned their defence to come away unscathed.
After a lot of defending it was Bradford's turn to attack after making huge inroads on both sides of the field from Keelan Foster, Evan Hodgson, Lewis Galtress and Anesu Mudoti.
The constant pressure was too much for the Thunder and McGill powered his way over after catching the Newcastle defence napping. Stephenson added the extras to make it 24-18.
The Bulls were now hitting their stride now and back-to-back penalties saw them camp on Newcastle's line, which was breached moments later as Ryan Butterworth went over on the left following expertly engineered work from Jack Wilson and Cobi Green. Alix Stephenson failed to convert but the Bulls were in full control at 28-18.
Cobi Green epitomising the spark of the turnaround in the Bulls fortunes, producing another all-action 80-minute performance.
Newcastle were now struggling to cause Bradford any problems and when they did venture into their opponents' half their end product was lacking.
Ryan Butterworth added his second try of the game in the 68th minute after quick hands from Green and Wilson had seen the ball shift left for Butterworth to pounce. Alix Stephenson adding the goal as Bradford were now in cruise control at 34-18.
Reiss Butterworth was then sin-binned for the Bulls with seven minutes remaining for his part in starting a melee. Butterworth disputed the decision with referee Gavin Houston and Butterworth was sent off for dissent.
The resulting penalty went the way of the home side, who couldn't capitalise against the strong defence, despite the Bulls being down to 12 men.
With the game in its final stages, Ryan Butterworth did his ever-growing portfolio no harm with his third try of the evening and the game's final score.
Ryan Butterworth the quickest to intercept a short kick from Cai Ellis to race 50 metres unopposed to score a spectacular try. Alix Stephenson couldn't add on the extras as the hooter sounded in the background.
Leigh Beattie was pleased with the way his side bounced back in the second half after a disappointing and at times scrappy performance in the first half.
"I thought we were disappointing with the ball and in defence in the first half. It's all about how you respond as a team, and I thought we saw that in the second half.
"Newcastle Thunder are always a tough side to beat at home, so we knew it would be tough. I thought once we composed ourselves, we handled it really well, so I'm very pleased to with the win."