Monday 4th June 2012, 20:00
Super League - Round: 16
Keith Lulia, Brett Kearney 2, John Bateman, Olivier Elima, Shaun Ainscough 3,
Jordan Thompson, Rangi Chase 2, Nathan Massey, Rhys Williams 2,
Luke Gale 7,
Kirk Dixon 4,
Attendance: Official: B Taylor Venue: Odsal Stadium
Full Time Report
Bradford Bulls put aside their latest off-field troubles to emerge victorious against struggling Castleford Tigers and move back into the Stobart Super League play-off places.
The cash-strapped Bulls, this week revealed to be even further in debt than first feared, have also had to cope with the trauma of Australian centre Adrian Purtell suffering a heart attack on the way back from last week's defeat against Leeds Rhinos in Manchester.
But all seemed far from their minds as the hosts ran in eight tries against the Tigers, although their coaching staff are likely to be less than happy at the six they conceded.
The win gives Bradford their first double of the season, having triumphed 20-12 at a snow-bound PROBIZ Coliseum in February, and ejects 2011 Grand Final winners Leeds Rhinos from the play-off zone for the first time this year.
Four tries in 16 first-half minutes gave the Bulls an advantage they never relinquished, although some poor defence from both sides allowed the game to develop into something of a try-fest.
Bradford roared into a 34-10 lead before three tries either side of half-time gave Castleford hope of improving a recent record of just one win in the their previous five games.
It was not until Shaun Ainscough crossed for Bradford's last try five minutes before the end that the fighting Tigers' aspirations finally died.
Bulls coach Mick Potter was left with several gaps to fill following the Leeds game during the Magic Weekend but was able to name Ian Sibbit for the first time since damaging a shoulder at Castleford in February.
Michael Platt, Danny Addy and Tom Olbison were also recalled to plug the gaps left by the injured Chev Walker, Craig Kopczak, Matt Diskin and Elliot Kear, while Purtell continues to recover from his scare.
Castleford boss Ian Millward reintroduced Ryan McGoldrick, back after a two-match suspension, and winger Josh Griffin to the side beaten on the same Etihad Stadium stage by Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, with Richard Owen and Adam Milner making way.
Keith Lulia put Bradford ahead after seven minutes following good work from towering winger Karl Pryce in claiming a Ben Jeffries kick, although Luke Gale's attempted conversion from the touchline went wide.
Full-back Brett Kearney extended the lead when darting onto a neat inside pass from Gale, who this time had no trouble in adding the extra two points, barely three minutes later.
Castleford hit back swiftly when Jordan Thompson crossed at the other end but goal-kicker Kirk Dixon was no more successful from the touchline than Gale had initially been.
In-demand teenage forward John Bateman restored the hosts' 10-point lead, reaching out in the tackle, after taking a clever wrong-footing inside pass from Lulia, with Gale again on target with the boot.
France international Olivier Elima continued the Bulls' forward momentum - helping open a 22-4 lead when charging onto a Bryn Hargreaves pass.
A magnificent side-stepping solo effort from Rangi Chase gave the Tigers a foothold in the game, after the visitors were gifted good field possession by a Pryce knock-on while fielding a deep kick.
The respite was brief as two tries in three minutes from Ainscough left the Odsal outfit back in command.
First, the Bulls winger rose to collect and ground a well-weighted Jeffries diagonal kick and Ainscough was over again, having been set free by a long looping pass from Heath L'Estrange, making his first start of the season at hooker in Diskin's absence.
Nathan Massey grabbed another score back for Cas - the ninth try of the half - as both defences continued to prove fragile, leaving Bradford ahead 34-16 at the break.
Castleford lost Massey to what appeared an arm injury just after the restart but bossed the opening 10 minutes, eventually being rewarded when Danny Orr put Rhys Williams over in the corner.
Williams was again the grateful recipient when Ainscough missed a high Chase bomb and, as Dixon landed his third goal in five attempts, the visitors were suddenly back within two scores of their hosts.
The Bulls regrouped and Gale and Jeffries combined incisively to put Kearney in for his second try on the hour.
But still the Tigers refused to lie down as Chase danced his way to another solo score, leaving the Bulls clinging on at times before Ainscough completed his hat-trick just before the end - Gale finishing with seven goals from eight attempts.