7th October 2018, 18:12
BULLS RETURN TO CHAMPIONSHIP WITH WORKINGTON VICTORY
A Jy Hitchcox hat-trick inspired Bradford Bulls to a monumental 27-8 play-off final defeat of Workington Town to seal promotion back to the Betfred Championship.
Tries apiece from Hitchcox, George Flanagan and Joe Keyes handed the hosts a slender 12-2 advantage at the break in a feisty first-half affair.
The visitors registered the first try of the second half to set up a tense final third, before Hitchcox’s second of the game stretched his side into a ten-point lead.
Fuifui Moimoi was sent off for a high tackle on Liam Kirk to further add to the hosts’ momentum, before Hitchcox’s hat-trick try and Dane Chisholm’s breakaway effort sealed a historic result for John Kear’s Bradford Bulls and a place in the Betfred Championship in 2019.
The Bradford head coach was forced into a solitary change to the starting line-up that saw off Scott Naylor’s Oldham RLFC in last week’s semi-final, with Ross Oakes deputising for the injured Tuoyo Egodo.
Emerging from the tunnel to a raucous home support, the hosts quickly established first blood as a fast start caught the Cumbrian outfit cold.
Quick hands down the right edge saw Gibson feed Hitchcox for the game’s first score just five minutes in.
Both sides traded sets throughout the first half, with neither giving the other an inch in a cagey opening stanza.
The boot of Carl Forber reduced the arrears as the first half grew to a close, before a quick-fire double by the hosts strengthened their grip on the tie.
George Flanagan’s ‘show and go’ on the line bamboozled the Cumbrian defence before Joe Keyes raced clear from 40 metres on the hooter for his side’s third try of the game.
The visitors registered their only score of the game early in the second-half set up a frantic final 30 minutes.
Former Castleford winger Hitchcox scored his second in style to extend his side’s lead, before Chisholm’s drop goal reaped an 11-point advantage.
Both sides traded blows before Moimoi was sent for an early bath following a high tackle which saw the end of Liam Kirk’s participation.
Hitchcox’s hat-trick try, again in spectacular fashion led to jubilant scenes on the terraces before Chisholm’s try on the hooter sealed a famous afternoon for the Bradford Bulls.
BULLS: McNally, Ryan, Oakes, Gibson, Hitchcox, Keyes, Chisholm, Kirk, Lilley, Crossley, Minchella, Garside, Wood. Subs: Green, Flanagan, Peltier, Storton.
TRIES: Hitchcox (5, 63, 73), Flanagan (35), Keyes (38), Chisholm (79)
GOALS: Keyes (0/2), Chisholm (1/4)
DROP-GOAL: Chisholm (1/1)
WORKINGTON: Mellor, Hambley, Miller, Morris, Rooke, Doran, Forber, Wilkes, Penkywicz, Dickinson, Olstrom, Moore, Scholey. Subs: Newton, Curwen, Dawson, Moimoi.
TRIES: Miller (52)
GOALS: Forber (1/1)