The two sides who seem to play each other more times than some people have hot dinners, met again at Odsal Stadium as seventh placed Bradford Bulls met a Halifax side currently two points adrift of them in eighth.
Halifax knocked the Bulls out of the Challenge Cup on the 2nd June to set themselves up with a semi-final against St Helens, and also won the league match in Blackpool at the Summer Bash by 21-14. Bradford took the points in April with a 33-26 away win and needed a win this afternoon to even honours over the season with their near neighbours.
Both sides has a myriad of changes as they re-shuffled their sides looking for a crucial two points to keep in touch with the league leaders and a play-off spot.
A superb opening try from Ethan Ryan gave the Bulls the lead after four minutes when he took a hanging Joe Keyes high kick before landing short and shooting out an arm to score. Keyes added the extra two.
Keyes added a penalty goal on eleven with the Bulls starting far the brighter and looking determined not to let the points slip.
On twenty minutes Steve Tyrer took a fast Quentin Laulu-Togagae pass wide left before finding Sean Robinson to coast over in space to score. Tyrer added the conversion for 6-8, Halifax edging their way back into the game.
Elliott Minchella collected and grounded a superb Jordan Lilley grubber on twenty-seven to edge to a 12-6 lead, punishing Halifax mistakes. Keyes slotted the conversion between the uprights and again the Bulls were eight points ahead.
Jy Hitchcox flew over in the corner on thirty-three after going ten metres down the blind side off a Jake Webster pass. Keyes added the touchline conversion, in off the far post for a 20-6 lead and the perfect first half for the home side.
A high tackle on the half time hooter allowed Tyrer to kick a penalty goal from the thirty metre line, his side going into the dressing rooms trailing by twelve points.
Hitchcox scored a forty-third minute carbon copy of his first half try, again taking a Webster pass, and again flying over in the corner to score one-handed. Tyrer was unable to add the conversion from a wide angle.
George Flanagan was shown the yellow card on the hour mark for a wreckless tackle after following his own kick.
Halifax gave themselves a fighting chance against the twelve men on sixty-six when Brandon Moore took a Fairbank pass after a Laulu-Togagae pass to go over under the sticks. Tyrer added the extras from in front of the posts for 14-24.
Two minutes later and Halifax were in again after a Ben Johnson line break allowed him to find Laulu-Togagae who spun out of a tackle to score. Tyrer kicked a fourth conversion for 20-24, game on for ‘Fax. The Flanagan sin-binning had cost the home side a nervous finish.
Keyes missed a twenty metre penalty just before the final hooter but in the end it didn’t matter as his side recorded a 24-20 win. After a very good first half, the Bulls made hard work of the second forty thanks to a terrific fightback from Halifax which almost saw them grab the points. John Kear will be fuming with his substitue Flanagan for a reckless challenge which gave him a very nervous last quarter of an hour.
Bulls: Pickersgill, Hitchcox (2T), Webster, Oakes, Ryan (T), Lilley, Keyes (4G), Crossley, Hallas, Magrin, Farrell, Garside, Minchella (T). Subs: Peltier, Wood, Storton, Flanagan (SB on 60).
Halifax: Grix, Robinson (T), Tyrer (4G), Saltonstall, Sharp, Murrell, Laulu-Togagae (T), Kavanagh, Moore (T), Morris, Cooper, Butler, Tangata. Subs: Fairbank, Larroyer, Johnston, Clark.
Referee: J Smith.