Friday 29th June 2012, 20:00
Super League - Round: 19
Anthony Gelling, Jack Murphy, Ben Flower, Dom Crosby,
Karl Pryce 2, Brett Kearney, Keith Lulia, Elliott Whitehead,
Josh Charnley 3,
Luke Gale 5,
Attendance: 19,628 Official: T Roby Venue: DW Stadium
Full Time Report
Bradford Bulls’ players demonstrated the never-say-die qualities the club will need to survive as they pulled off a stunning victory over Stobart Super League leaders Wigan Warriors in front of a shell-shocked crowd of 19,628 at the DW Stadium.
The Warriors had hooker Michael McIlorum sent off on 55 minutes for punching and the visitors scored the all-important try with a man advantage against a side playing their second game in five days - but there was no doubt this was a victory for the Bulls’ survival spirit.
Whether or not this turns out to be their last match, it will be a triumph that will live long in the memory as the Bradford team cast aside the uncertainty caused by the club’s grave financial troubles to produce a display of true courage and commitment.
Former Wigan winger Karl Pryce scored two of the Bulls’ five tries to take the gloss off a tryscoring debut by the Warriors’ 20-year-old full-back Jack Murphy, who got his chance when England star Sam Tomkins was ruled out with a “dead leg”.
There was little hint of the drama to come when Wigan took the lead after just three minutes, with Gareth Hock offloading from the tackle to free up centre George Carmont and winger Anthony Gelling finishing off the slick move.
The Bulls were down to 12 men when Pryce was sin-binned for holding down Darrell Goulding in the tackle to prevent a quick play-the-ball and the home side extended their lead in his absence through Murphy.
The youngster enjoyed a moment to cherish when he burst clean through the tackle of full-back Brett Kearney on halfway and eluded another ex-Wigan winger, Shaun Ainscough, to score a 50-metre try.
Josh Charnley’s goal made it 10-0 after 15 minutes and the Warriors had chances to establish a bigger lead, with loose forward Liam Farrell twice producing clean breaks which came to nothing.
The Bulls were in no mood to roll over, though, and they took the lead with two tries in 10 minutes.
Scrum-half Luke Gale combined superbly with Kearney and Jarrod Sammut to send Pryce in for his eighth try of the season before centre Keith Lulia broke free down the left wing and got the supporting Kearney over.
Gale kicked both conversions to make it 12-10 and, although Sean O’Loughlin’s short pass close to the line enabled back rower Ben Flower to score his first try for Wigan on his first appearance since March, the Yorkshiremen regained the lead on the stroke of half-time.
Their determination to keep the ball alive had the Wigan defence backpedalling and, after Michael Platt had switched the point of attack, prop Tom Burgess tore down the middle before working the ball out wide for Lulia to finish off a glorious move.
The teams had to cope with steady drizzle at the start of the second half but Wigan forced two goal-line drop-outs and the pressure paid off on 51 minutes when replacement prop Dom Crosby went through a gap in the Bradford defence to register his first Super League try.
Charnley’s third goal made it 22-18 but the Warriors were reduced to 12 men for the last 25 minutes when McIlorum was shown red for swinging a punch at Elima.
That gave the Bulls all the encouragement they needed and they drew level for the third time with 10 minutes to go when second rower Elliott Whitehead jinked his way over for their fourth try.
Gale maintained his composure to land his fourth goal to nudge his side back in front and, although Bradford lost Sammut with a leg injury, they clinched victory when Charnley made a mess of Gale’s crossfield kick to present Pryce with his second try.