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Bradford Bulls 33, Catalan Dragons 20
Francis Cummins was left delighted as the Bulls conjured a remarkable comeback to march into the Tetley’s Challenge Cup quarter-finals.
Catalan Dragons, featuring three former Bradford players in Leon Pryce, Elliott Whitehead and Olivier Elima, powered into an early 16-0 lead.
First Daryl Millard squeezed over in the left corner, Ben Pomeroy added a second on the opposite flank and Elima touched down under the sticks.
That made it 16-0 with only 13 minutes played in another nightmare start for Cummins’ men.
But Whitehead was soon forced to depart with a game-ending ankle injury and the Bulls gradually took control.
In the 29th minute, Lee Gaskell pounced on Luke Gale’s grubber kick to score and then Jamie Foster twice finished in clinical fashion in the left corner.
His three successful conversions made it 18-16 to Bradford at the break and Gale then scythed through the Dragons’ defence for a fourth try in the 43rd minute.
Adrian Purtell added a fifth home try in the 58th minute before Catalan responded soon after through winger Michael Oldfield, although it was too little too late.
There was an encouraging 80-minute debut for Jay Pitts in the second row while former Catalan prop Jamal Fakir also enjoyed his first reunion with his old club.
Foster slotted a late penalty and Gale added a drop-goal to complete a fine afternoon’s work as the Bulls look forward to tomorrow evening’s draw.
The only negative for the Bulls was the sight of Manase Manuokafoa being helped off in clear discomfort in the closing stages with a tight hamstring.
FT: Bradford 33, Catalan 20 - A famous and well-deserved comeback victory for the Bulls...!!
Luke Gale has landed a late drop-goal... It's now 33-20 with one minute remaining...
Manase Manuokafoa has gone off injured... been helped off the field in clear discomfort...
Now 32-20 with four minutes remaining...
Penalty for the Bulls, which Foster should slot...
Bulls hanging on a bit here... Catalan coming forward without creating too much...
62 mins... TRY for Catalan as Michael Oldfield goes over in the right corner... Barthau cannot convert so it's 30-20 with 17 mins remaining...
56 mins… TRY for Adrian Purtell from Adam O’Brien’s smart pass…
Danny Addy held up just short of the line...
Catalan kick out on full through Barthau...
Foster has converted to make it 24-16...
42 mins... TRY for Luke Gale who weaves his way over the line to leave Eloi Pelissier on his backside... now 22-16 with kick to come...
Second half is underway, Bulls with an 18-16 lead...
Are you spying on me @spenner83? Haha. The spirit still in the #bradfordbulls just need to cut out the errors!— @MarkWilsonRadio 27 April 2014
Half-time: Bulls 18, Catalan 16 - Great recovery from the home side.
YES he can!! It's 18-16 with the interval fast approaching...
Can Jamie Foster convert?
37 mins... TRY for Jamie Foster in the left corner has levelled the scores at 16-16... kick to come!!
Foster has converted to make it 16-12... definitely game on now.
34 mins... TRY for Jamie Foster as he touches down a kick from Lee Gaskell...
Whitehead has gone off injured... looks like his right ankle... Bulls trail 16-6 with seven minutes to go until the break...
28 mins... TRY for the Bulls as Lee Gaskell touches down Luke Gale's teasing grubber kick... this will be converted to make it 16-6...
Actually, that wasn't a drop-out but a penalty to Catalan... Whitehead back on his feet... the Bulls finally get a penalty in the 25th minute!!
The Bulls have forced a drop-out but Elliott Whitehead has gone down injured and is receving treatment... still 16-0...
20 ' - A one-sided opening quarter leaves Francis Cummins' side trailing 16-0 - and in desperate need of a response!— @OfficialBullsRL 27 April 2014
RT @rosshtanda: Oh dear. Olivier Elima has grabbed a third Catlan try inside the opening 12 minutes. Terrible mistake from Luke George.— @MattPimperton 27 April 2014
James Child getting a bit of stick from the home supporters after failing to recognise a clear knock-on from William Barthau... still 16-0...
12 mins... TRY for Olivier Elima, who touches down with ease after Luke George fumbles Barthau's kick... another shocking start from the Bulls... now 16-0...
Jamie Foster kicks out on the full at the expense of a penalty...
Barthau converts to make it 10-0....
10 mins... TRY for Ben Pomeroy in the right corner after neat passing between Eloi Pellisier and William Barthau... now 8-0 with kick to come...
Tactical switch for Bulls; pre-planned: Kearney to half-back, Gaskell to full-back... still 4-0 but the Bulls have got a foothold on proceedings at least...
The Dragons coming forward at pace once again...
Catalan miss the conversion through Barthau but they lead 4-0...
02 mins... TRY for Catalan as Daryl Millard opens the scoring in the left corner...
We are underway here at the Provident Stadium... the visitors are attacking the Coral Stand in the first half...
Elliott Whitehead is roundly booed as his name is read out over the Tannoy...
Remplaçants : Anderson, Paea, Garcia, Guasch— @DragonsOfficiel 27 April 2014
La compo : Escaré, Oldfield, Pomeroy, Duport, Millard, Pryce, Barthau, Elima, Pelissier, Bousquet, Taia, Whitehead, Baitieri— @DragonsOfficiel 27 April 2014
Thomas Bosc is out of this Challenge Cup tie with a calf injury. William Barthau is back in the Catalans line-up.— @DragonsOfficiel 27 April 2014
The @DragonsOfficiel players going through the pre-match motions ahead of the 3:00pm kick-off. #RugbyLeague http://t.co/5wj97UtyIT— @TheGameCaller 27 April 2014
@OfficialBullsRL - @DragonsOfficiel #bethere http://t.co/XqiLYT66nt— @OntenienteBruno 27 April 2014
Fair play to @DragonsOfficiel fans for making the trip over, fair few of them here.— @TheBigFella80 27 April 2014
Matt Diskin, Luke George and Jamie Foster have been included in Bradford Bulls' starting line-up for this afternoon's fifth-round Tetley's Challenge Cup battle with Catalan Dragons (kick-off 3.00pm)
George is back following a six-week absence, with Diskin and Foster regaining full fitness having missed the Bulls' previous two outings.
Ex-Huddersfield, Wakefield and Hull KR talent George is to feature at centre in the Bradford backline, inside Elliot Kear, with Foster appearing on the left wing alongside full-back Brett Kearney and three-quarter Adrian Purtell.
Luke Gale again partners Lee Gaskell in the halves as Jamal Fakir lines up in the front row to face his former club, next to skipper Diskin and fellow prop forward Manase Manuokafoa.
New signing Jay Pitts makes his Bulls debut in the second row, with Scotland 2013 World Cup star Danny Addy joining him.
Chev Walker has been named at loose forward, completing the Bradford pack.
Adam Sidlow, who missed the Bulls' Easter Monday trip to Wigan, joins Adam O'Brien, Tom Olbison and Adam Henry on the interchange bench, with Francis Cummins' side looking to book a coveted quarter-final spot.
1. Brett Kearney
2. Elliot Kear
20. Luke George
3. Adrian Purtell
5. Jamie Foster
17. Lee Gaskell
7. Luke Gale
30. Jamal Fakir
9. Matt Diskin (c)
14. Manase Manuokafoa
33. Jay Pitts
16. Danny Addy
13. Chev Walker
15. Adam Sidlow
19. Adam O'Brien
11. Tom Olbison
21. Adam Henry
Luke George starts at centre and Matt Diskin, Adam Sidlow and Jamie Foster all return... plus Jay Pitts starts in the second row...
Catalan are without the injured Thomas Bosc today... Leon Pryce and William Barthau in the halves...
Teams for today's Bulls v Catalan game. #rugbyleague http://t.co/8xGSxAnhRn— @rosshtanda 27 April 2014
Prior engagement so no game for me today. I'd wish the boys luck but it's not luck we need it's EFFORT! So let's have 100% #bradfordbulls— @milliganwasagod 27 April 2014
RT @rugbyleaguepast: A thing of beauty... Behold the glorious Challenge Cup. The greatest trophy in the world. http://t.co/FNThWDqTFq— @teale17 27 April 2014
#COYB— @mattyblythe88 27 April 2014
Jay Pitts is also in line to make his debut after joining on loan from Hull FC... but Joe Arundel is cup-tied and misses out...
Team news within the next hour or so but the Bulls are expected to be bolstered by the return of a number of players...
RT @OfficialBullsRL: IT'S GAMEDAY! @TetleysChalCup action returns as we tackle @DragonsOfficiel. Your guide here: http://t.co/BRySMGaYhG ht…— @HPL1964 27 April 2014
Welcome to the Provident Stadium for today's Tetley's Challenge Cup fifth-round tie between the Bulls and Catalan Dragons...