Friday 30th March 2012, 20:00
Super League - Round: 9
Richard Horne 2, Willie Manu, Tom Briscoe,
Keith Lulia, Karl Pryce, John Bateman,
Danny Tickle 4,
Jarrod Sammut 3,
Attendance: 11,673 Official: T Alibert Venue: Kingston Communications Stadium
Full Time Report
Beleaguered Bradford Bulls ended their difficult week with a closely-fought defeat against Hull FC at the KC Stadium.
The Bulls battled gamely, but Tom Briscoe’s try with 10 minutes left proved decisive in a match that could be the four-time Stobart Super League champions’ last before they are plunged into administration.
Bradford’s future is in doubt after it emerged during the week that they need to raise £500,000 by next Friday to keep the tax man from their door.
Administration hangs heavy over the club with the desperation of their plight illustrated by a call to their fans to donate £100 each to reach a final £1million mark by the end of next month.
Any of those generous Bulls supporters who were hoping to get an immediate on-field dividend on their investment were denied a result but not a battling performance to at least show their players retain the stomach for the fight.
A memorable John Bateman try had levelled the scores at 18-18 with 14 minutes left, but Hull stole ahead through Briscoe before Danny Tickle landed a late penalty.
It meant the Black and Whites moved joint second with Warrington Wolves after a fifth successive win, built on a Richard Horne double to overcome an otherwise weak forward display.
Hull were without forward duo Mark O’Meley and Sam Moa, who returned to Australia this week on compassionate grounds, leaving coach Peter Gentle to hand debuts to duo Liam Kent and Chris Green off the bench.
Their inexperience was felt in the opening period as they relied on the razor-sharp finishing of Horne and Willie Manu to take a 12-6 interval lead.
Horne was in the right place at the right time to run onto a perfectly-weighted pass and burst through the Bulls defence before racing 40 yards to cross on eight minutes.
A Hull mistake gifted Bradford their first score when Jarrod Sammut clasped onto an ill-advised pass at close quarters and, while he was trip-tackled with the try-line gaping, the Bulls recycled the ball to see Keith Lulia over.
Manu restored Hull’s six-point advantage on 20 minutes, expertly wrong-footing a pair of defenders to score under the posts, but, for the remainder of the half, Hull remained marooned in their own half.
Despite their territorial advantage, Bradford failed to find a second try before the half-time, with Brett Kearney going over untouched, only for his run to be ruled out after an earlier obstruction.
The Bulls were rewarded five minutes after the break when, after Hull gave away two penalties to advance them down the field, Briscoe dropped a routine kick into the in-goal area and Karl Pryce fell on the loose ball.
The home side resorted to kicking for territory, a tactic aided when Kearney needlessly gathered a ball drifting out of the in-goal before turning into a crunching Manu tackle.
With some field position to finally work with, Hull found a third try to edge them back ahead as Danny Houghton made the crucial yards with a scurrying run before Horne barged over for his second.
Tickle landed his third conversion to make it 18-12 with 22 minutes left.
Bradford had shown little creativity until they produced a try to remember and level scores with 14 minutes left.
The move began with a series of tired-looking offloads in the centre of the park which, somehow eventually opened up the defence before Lulia raced 30 yards and drew two defenders before a clever pass sent Bateman over.
Just four minutes later, Hull regained the lead, with Briscoe finishing a slick move in the corner, and, while Tickle missed the kick, he landed a late penalty to add further gloss.