Diskin unable to stop the rot as Bradford Bulls edge a step closer to the drop (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Matt Diskin unable to stop the rot as Bradford Bulls edge a step closer to the drop
Bradford Bulls 18, Hull KR 44
MARC Green says he will make a decision next week on whether to take the appeal against the Bulls' six-point penalty to the High Court.
After this thumping defeat, the club's chairman and owner may as well save himself further expense and start preparing for life in the Championship.
Victory in their first outing since Green sacked Francis Cummins would have given Bradford a glimmer, however small, of hope in their battle against relegation.
Now, though, it is time to face facts: the Bulls are almost certainly going down and might be better off accepting it.
A quick glance around a sun-kissed Odsal last night - where just 5,601 turned up - suggested that many supporters have already given up.
The terraces were sparsely populated for a match that Bradford simply had to win to have any hope of beginning an improbable charge to safety.
The atmosphere at the end was of a club resigned to its fate and knowing the game is almost up.
Playing under the guidance of caretaker coach and club captain Matt Diskin, you could not fault the spirit of the Bulls, especially during a largely balanced first half.
They went toe to toe with Hull KR during the opening 40 minutes and were level at 6-6 with the interval fast approaching.
Then they erred; not once but twice, allowing Rovers hooker Josh Hodgson to scythe through their defence before a dreadful mix-up between Adrian Purtell and Lee Gaskell allowed Kris Welham to scamper clear for a third visiting try.
Those two quickfire scores were a knife in the side of a team already struggling for confidence and reeling from an embarrassing defeat at Salford the week previously.
That reverse spelt the end of Cummins' tenure and last night's result almost certainly signalled the end of the club's survival hopes.
Green is out of the country this weekend and missed the game but will know he faces some big decisions, not least who to appoint as Cummins' successor.
There appears no major rush to do so and, with a formidable run of fixtures on the horizon, life will not get any easier for the Bulls and any incoming coach.
Although Bradford made countless errors and were comprehensively outclassed in the end last night, they made an encouraging start.
With Brett Kearney still absent, Gaskell remained at full back and Jordan Baldwinson earned his first start in the red, amber and black.
The Bulls made a promising opening and Luke Gale's high bomb forced an error from Greg Eden which led to his team dropping out.
Bradford spent the opening six minutes camped in Rovers' half, although the visitors almost scored from their first meaningful attack.
Stand-off Travis Burns, who was pivotal throughout, flighted a teasing high kick to the right corner and Ade Gardner plucked the ball out of the air and found Welham.
The recalled centre collected possession and plunged over the line, only for ex-Rovers loanee Luke George to deny him a try with a fine piece of defending.
In the 13th minute, Burns went close to playing a killer pass from close range which Danny Addy intercepted.
But Rovers scored from the next set after a scrum as Burns collected possession, threw a fine dummy and barrelled through a thicket of home players to score.
He added the extras himself to make it 6-0 and take much of the early sting out of the hosts.
Tempers flared from a scrum moments later, with Rovers loose forward Neville Costigan at the heart of a bout of fisticuffs.
Referee Robert Hicks put the incident on report and awarded the Bulls a penalty, giving them a chance to pressure the visitors' line.
Diskin's short pass almost sent Gale scampering over and Addy's high kick forced another drop-out, which led to the Bulls drawing level in the 19th minute.
Gale found Gaskell advancing forward inside the right channel and he showed intelligence to offload to Elliot Kear, who burst through the Rovers defence with customary aggression to finish with aplomb.
Gale's conversion levelled the scores at 6-6 but Rovers continued to look dangerous inside Bradford's 20-metre line.
In the 28th minute, however, the desire in the Bulls' ranks was epitomised when Gale's grubber kick was fielded by Eden before he was mobbed by a pack of Bradford players.
That forced him to knock-on and earned the hosts a scrum ten metres out, from which they almost scored.
Some quick hands saw the ball played out to Adam O'Brien, who replaced Diskin, and he showed speed and aggression to burrow his way over the line from close range.
But video referee Ben Thaler ruled that O'Brien had not grounded the ball after being held up over the line and Rovers survived.
That Bradford were the better side during the first half was undeniable and Manase Manuokafoa was held up over the line eight minutes before the break.
Moments later, Rovers moved upfield to edge back in front when hooker Hodgson darted through a gaping hole in the home rearguard to score all too easily.
Burns converted and Hodgson broke the Bulls' line again moments later but his inside pass to Kris Keating was awry and the opportunity was lost.
Just a minute before half-time, Purtell attempted to offload to Gaskell out of a tackle but the full back failed to collect the ball and Welham gleefully raced away from 40 metres.
George and Jay Pitts tried desperately to catch him but it was to no avail and Rovers led 18-6 at the break.
Bradford needed a good start to the second half and they did not get it.
Instead, Rovers grabbed a fourth try within 90 seconds of the resumption as Keating's pass sent Craig Hall scampering clear into the left corner.
In the 52nd minute, the Robins grabbed a fifth try when another unforced error from the Bulls led to Eden taking a short pass to cross from close range.
Tom Olbison then failed to find Gale when his vice-captain was unmarked just ten metres out.
Gale could barely hide his frustration but the Bulls continued to battle away and were rewarded on the hour when O'Brien went over from dummy half.
But Rovers prop Adam Walker soon barrelled over the line past more flimsy defending to score against his home-town club.
Although Gale and Adam Sidlow combined well to send Addy over in the 67th minute, Hall soon grabbed a second for the visitors before Eden raced clear from deep inside Rovers' half to complete his own brace.
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