Spirit of old evident as Bradford Bulls secure first Odsal win of the season

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Karl Pryce dives over to score the Bulls’ second try against St Helens Karl Pryce dives over to score the Bulls’ second try against St Helens

Bulls 12, St Helens 8

Olivier Elima whipped the crowd into a frenzy at the final whistle, waving his arms around in front of a delirious Main Stand.

Manase Manuokafoa was right beside him, punching the air like a madman and warmly embracing several equally jubilant team-mates.

The rest of Mick Potter’s men returned the rapturous applause from the crowd with clenched-fist salutes.

And for a moment the spirit of old flowed through a club that has enjoyed too few of these kind of successes in recent times.

A first home win of the season and a first victory over Saints at Odsal since 2007.

The performance and the scenes at the end told a story.

Of resilience, unity, trust; further evidence of the qualities needed to make this proud club a respected force again.

This was the most vivid indication yet that Bradford are heading in the right direction.

When Elliott Whitehead and Karl Pryce touched down in either half, the heart of all Bradford supporters soared.

When Elima’s challenge on Lee Gaskell sparked a major flare-up in which no Bulls player took a backward step, Odsal felt blood course through its veins.

The transformation from those early-season home defeats against Catalan Dragons and Wigan has been quite remarkable.

Credit to Potter, of course.

The spirit within his squad has rarely been in doubt but he has harnessed that togetherness in highly impressive fashion to conjure a winning formula.

Defensively the Bulls have improved beyond all recognition and confidence is growing with each passing week.

The fans who marched out of Odsal in disgust after the first two home games suddenly have a swagger about them. They are starting to believe in their club again.

That three pivotal contributions came from Bradford-born players in Whitehead, Pryce and John Bateman made victory all the more satisfying.

While Whitehead and Pryce scored the tries, Bateman just gets better and better.

Four successive Saturday evening games on Sky, three of which the Bulls have won, have merely allowed his talents to be seen by a national audience.

Ben Jeffries also deserves huge credit for yet another superb kicking display. Paul Sykes, too, came in from the cold for his first appearance of the season and did not put a foot wrong.

Brett Kearney excelled at full back once more, while the returning Elima and Adrian Purtell similarly made key contributions.

Bradford’s pack were superior to their St Helens counterparts. But this was a collective effort, from one to 17, as the Bulls underlined their play-off pedigree with the kind of grit and determination that deserves and usually gets its rewards.

A far from vintage St Helens team this may be – the result condemned Royce Simmons’ men to a fourth straight defeat, their worst run in recent memory – yet the Bulls still had to go out and perform in difficult conditions.

A minute’s silence in honour of the six soldiers killed in Afghanistan – including Private Chris Kershaw, a massive Bulls fan from Eccleshill – was held before kick-off as rain began to fall.

The Bulls forwards were up for the physical battle up front and Jeffries quickly emerged as a major threat, his intelligent kicking keeping the Bulls largely on the front foot.

As Bradford attacked the Coral Stand during the first half, chances were few during the opening quarter, although they almost led when Bateman looked to have finished off his own excellent work with a drive from close range.

The 18-year-old stretched out an arm to ground the ball but was instead penalised for a double movement. Still, it hinted at the possibilities on offer.

In the 23rd minute, Saints hit Bradford on the counter-attack in highly contentious circumstances.

Having defended four successive sets from the Bulls, the visitors hit their hosts with a sucker-punch which left a bitter taste in the mouth.

A clearly-forward pass from Anthony Laffranchi found Jon Wilkin and he supplied Paul Wellens as Saints engineered a fine break upfield.

Wellens’ progress was halted by Jason Crookes’ superb saving tackle but Saints kept the ball alive and worked it out for Andrew Dixon to collect Gaskell’s excellent flicked pass to cross in the right corner.

Jamie Foster could not convert and six minutes before the break the winger was at the centre of attention for the wrong reasons again when Jeffries’ high hick was hacked forward by Pryce.

It was a clear foot-race between Foster and Whitehead which the Bulls back-rower won as he grounded the ball, only to receive an accidental boot in the face by Foster as he attempted to clear the danger.

Sykes kicked the conversion in style and referee Richard Silverwood then awarded the Bulls a penalty and a shot at goal which Sykes gratefully accepted following Foster’s challenge on Whitehead.

Whitehead, to his credit, did not complain about the challenge and simply rose to his feet and carried on playing, while Foster was placed on report.

The Bulls continued to probe, with Matt Diskin and Heath L’Estrange influential around the ruck again and the likes of Manuokafoa, Bryn Hargreaves and Tom Burgess punching some sizeable holes up front.

They were rewarded two minutes after the break. Foster seemed certain that Jeffries’ hanging kick was going out on the full and inexplicably let it bounce, allowing Pryce to gratefully collect the ball to go over in the right corner.

Sykes could not convert but Foster was sinbinned for interference at the play-the-ball in the 56th minute as his night went from bad to worse.

Five minutes later, Elima caught Gaskell late, sparking a rumpus which summed up the fighting spirit within Potter’s players.

Bradford pushed for a killer third try with 15 minutes remaining and only a brilliant saving tackle from the outstanding Wellens denied Jeffries.

The Bulls’ game-management was to be admired but St Helens, it has to be said, seriously lacked cohesion and could have no complaints about the result.

They bombed the few chances that came their way until Francis Meli replied late on when he took a pass from Foster to race clear down the left flank.

Foster missed the conversion and cursed himself. It pretty much summed up what everyone already knew. This was Bradford’s night.

Attendance: 11,360

Comments (17)

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7:54am Mon 19 Mar 12

flashdonut says...

Word perfect description.
.
Bullmania is rising again.
Word perfect description. . Bullmania is rising again. flashdonut

8:04am Mon 19 Mar 12

Bone_idle18 says...

flashdonut wrote:
Word perfect description.
.
Bullmania is rising again.
Agreed.

its not just the results that are pleasing, but the performances.
[quote][p][bold]flashdonut[/bold] wrote: Word perfect description. . Bullmania is rising again.[/p][/quote]Agreed. its not just the results that are pleasing, but the performances. Bone_idle18

8:07am Mon 19 Mar 12

hemsworthbull formerly known as pontebull says...

From 1-17, the players put in a performance to be proud of. The metres made by the forwards were phenomenal to say the least. I can't remember any of them taking a step back, and when Elima came on, well........say no more.
Collectively, they were a unit, and a unit that stuck together. You could tell that Saints were going to go in hard and had it not been for the forward pass in the run up to their 1st try, then the score line would have been greater. The atmosphere was fantastic, and alothough the weather put a dampner on the game, the crowd were awesome and it was great to see. Although, not a great fan of Sykes, as the reporter said, he did not put a foot wrong. He took the ball up strong on many occassion which took some pressure off of the forward pack. Burgess, Hargreaves, Nas, Bateman and Elima, for me were far, far stronger that the Saints pack and punched holes and made plenty of hard yards which was very pleasing to see.
I am not saying that we are Superleague winners but we are defninetly worthy of that top 8 place at the moment. Great to see and I am looking forward to seeing more.
come on you Bulls.
From 1-17, the players put in a performance to be proud of. The metres made by the forwards were phenomenal to say the least. I can't remember any of them taking a step back, and when Elima came on, well........say no more. Collectively, they were a unit, and a unit that stuck together. You could tell that Saints were going to go in hard and had it not been for the forward pass in the run up to their 1st try, then the score line would have been greater. The atmosphere was fantastic, and alothough the weather put a dampner on the game, the crowd were awesome and it was great to see. Although, not a great fan of Sykes, as the reporter said, he did not put a foot wrong. He took the ball up strong on many occassion which took some pressure off of the forward pack. Burgess, Hargreaves, Nas, Bateman and Elima, for me were far, far stronger that the Saints pack and punched holes and made plenty of hard yards which was very pleasing to see. I am not saying that we are Superleague winners but we are defninetly worthy of that top 8 place at the moment. Great to see and I am looking forward to seeing more. come on you Bulls. hemsworthbull formerly known as pontebull

8:10am Mon 19 Mar 12

kennyr13 says...

Once again the officials were poor. The ref got it wrong with the foster incident, it was a complete accident as it was contact just below the knee on Whiteheads forehead. Can anyone confirm the rumour that Bateman & Whitehead are off to Leeds in 2013?
Once again the officials were poor. The ref got it wrong with the foster incident, it was a complete accident as it was contact just below the knee on Whiteheads forehead. Can anyone confirm the rumour that Bateman & Whitehead are off to Leeds in 2013? kennyr13

8:23am Mon 19 Mar 12

danger mouse says...

kennyr13 wrote:
Once again the officials were poor. The ref got it wrong with the foster incident, it was a complete accident as it was contact just below the knee on Whiteheads forehead. Can anyone confirm the rumour that Bateman & Whitehead are off to Leeds in 2013?
I heard on Sat that Whitehead was going to Hull FC, so fingers crossed these are just stupid rumors because we really need to keep these players if we are to build for a strong Bradford Bulls future.
Thought all the lads played superbly and the atmosphere reminded of the 2005 season.
Anyone else feel as tho we are finally turning that dreadful corner? COYB
[quote][p][bold]kennyr13[/bold] wrote: Once again the officials were poor. The ref got it wrong with the foster incident, it was a complete accident as it was contact just below the knee on Whiteheads forehead. Can anyone confirm the rumour that Bateman & Whitehead are off to Leeds in 2013?[/p][/quote]I heard on Sat that Whitehead was going to Hull FC, so fingers crossed these are just stupid rumors because we really need to keep these players if we are to build for a strong Bradford Bulls future. Thought all the lads played superbly and the atmosphere reminded of the 2005 season. Anyone else feel as tho we are finally turning that dreadful corner? COYB danger mouse

8:34am Mon 19 Mar 12

Craig says...

Players like Whitehead and Bateman should already have offers of 5 year deals on the table, which is what clubs with good administrations i.e. Saints and Leeds do.

*
If players of this calibre are brought through our system and then allowed to leave, what message does that send out, particularly when we are finally starting to see some green shoots of recovery and progress?

*
I also heard these rumours at the game on Saturday (I also heard Hull FC are after Whitehead). It seems that clubs think the Bulls are easy meat from which to pluck stars of the future and given the amount of junior prospects we let go for knock down prices, who can blame them?

*
It's time this board stamped its mark and became the board that actually brought our young, Bradford supporting, Bradford based players through, and whatsmore, kept them there and built success around them.

*
Mr Hood, Ducket, Duffy et al. Take heed, get these lads signed up and leave a real legacy, something tangible with long lasting benefits to the club - let's make a statement that we are no longer a club that gives up our own, our best prospects.
Players like Whitehead and Bateman should already have offers of 5 year deals on the table, which is what clubs with good administrations i.e. Saints and Leeds do. * If players of this calibre are brought through our system and then allowed to leave, what message does that send out, particularly when we are finally starting to see some green shoots of recovery and progress? * I also heard these rumours at the game on Saturday (I also heard Hull FC are after Whitehead). It seems that clubs think the Bulls are easy meat from which to pluck stars of the future and given the amount of junior prospects we let go for knock down prices, who can blame them? * It's time this board stamped its mark and became the board that actually brought our young, Bradford supporting, Bradford based players through, and whatsmore, kept them there and built success around them. * Mr Hood, Ducket, Duffy et al. Take heed, get these lads signed up and leave a real legacy, something tangible with long lasting benefits to the club - let's make a statement that we are no longer a club that gives up our own, our best prospects. Craig

9:27am Mon 19 Mar 12

A650 says...

Whitehead and Bateman aren't going anywhere.
Whitehead and Bateman aren't going anywhere. A650

9:38am Mon 19 Mar 12

murphyslaw says...

Some credit must go to those who have criticised the team and complained about the total lack of professionalism around the club in the last 3 or 4 seasons. The doubting of the quality of signings and the awful performances in some of the pre season and early season games.. I believe this criticism has made some people take a long hard look at their performances and as a result we are seeing everyone pulling together again. So when people want to moan about the knockers on here they should take a look at just how discipline and criticism works and hopefully the fans will no longer tolerate anything other than total commitment to our club by everyone. Don't allow the team to slip back to what it was and if it's looking that way then make your voices heard, it helps!
Some credit must go to those who have criticised the team and complained about the total lack of professionalism around the club in the last 3 or 4 seasons. The doubting of the quality of signings and the awful performances in some of the pre season and early season games.. I believe this criticism has made some people take a long hard look at their performances and as a result we are seeing everyone pulling together again. So when people want to moan about the knockers on here they should take a look at just how discipline and criticism works and hopefully the fans will no longer tolerate anything other than total commitment to our club by everyone. Don't allow the team to slip back to what it was and if it's looking that way then make your voices heard, it helps! murphyslaw

9:58am Mon 19 Mar 12

Sheffieldbull says...

murphyslaw wrote:
Some credit must go to those who have criticised the team and complained about the total lack of professionalism around the club in the last 3 or 4 seasons. The doubting of the quality of signings and the awful performances in some of the pre season and early season games.. I believe this criticism has made some people take a long hard look at their performances and as a result we are seeing everyone pulling together again. So when people want to moan about the knockers on here they should take a look at just how discipline and criticism works and hopefully the fans will no longer tolerate anything other than total commitment to our club by everyone. Don't allow the team to slip back to what it was and if it's looking that way then make your voices heard, it helps!
My god! That post really takes the probverbial buscuit! Who allowed you that self congratulating back slapping? You are kidding yourself mate!
[quote][p][bold]murphyslaw[/bold] wrote: Some credit must go to those who have criticised the team and complained about the total lack of professionalism around the club in the last 3 or 4 seasons. The doubting of the quality of signings and the awful performances in some of the pre season and early season games.. I believe this criticism has made some people take a long hard look at their performances and as a result we are seeing everyone pulling together again. So when people want to moan about the knockers on here they should take a look at just how discipline and criticism works and hopefully the fans will no longer tolerate anything other than total commitment to our club by everyone. Don't allow the team to slip back to what it was and if it's looking that way then make your voices heard, it helps![/p][/quote]My god! That post really takes the probverbial buscuit! Who allowed you that self congratulating back slapping? You are kidding yourself mate! Sheffieldbull

10:18am Mon 19 Mar 12

theviking62 says...

Murphys' law, you cynical fool. Do really think that you, and the other moaning morons on here are the reason for the bulls winning games. If so, think again, in a word or two, potter is the one that deserves the plaudits. NOT YOU.
Murphys' law, you cynical fool. Do really think that you, and the other moaning morons on here are the reason for the bulls winning games. If so, think again, in a word or two, potter is the one that deserves the plaudits. NOT YOU. theviking62

10:23am Mon 19 Mar 12

theviking62 says...

Now as to the rumours re players moving. That's just what they are rumours. Whitehead has stated he's going nowhere. Bateman, as said same. To find out the truth, why not ask the players themselves. Or are so gullible as to believe all you hear and read.
Now as to the rumours re players moving. That's just what they are rumours. Whitehead has stated he's going nowhere. Bateman, as said same. To find out the truth, why not ask the players themselves. Or are so gullible as to believe all you hear and read. theviking62

10:23am Mon 19 Mar 12

mdn says...

Whiteheads denied the hull rumour on twitter last week sso we can put that one to bed at least. leeds are supposedly re-signing ellis and already have all their current 2nd rowers under contract for next couple of years so cant see them making a move either.
Whiteheads denied the hull rumour on twitter last week sso we can put that one to bed at least. leeds are supposedly re-signing ellis and already have all their current 2nd rowers under contract for next couple of years so cant see them making a move either. mdn

10:40am Mon 19 Mar 12

Bullcity says...

Well done to the Players and the Staff for the current transformation. We at last have some better quality in the squad & this coupled with the new spirit at the place has made the team at least a serious threat to all who will face them this season.
All I can say is make sure we can build around this nucleus for the next few seasons.
This means securing the Coach and the youngsters for the forseeable future
Well done to the Players and the Staff for the current transformation. We at last have some better quality in the squad & this coupled with the new spirit at the place has made the team at least a serious threat to all who will face them this season. All I can say is make sure we can build around this nucleus for the next few seasons. This means securing the Coach and the youngsters for the forseeable future Bullcity

12:42pm Mon 19 Mar 12

Bone_idle18 says...

I see Saints have sacked Simmons and assistant! I can see the sense if they were losing with a full team, but they have a similar injury situation to us, so are never going to be performing at their best.

As for the Foster incident, he could easily have pulled out, the ball was grounded, it made me think of the Kiwi full back, Matthew Ridge, who was penalised plenty of times for kicking out as tries were being scored.
I see Saints have sacked Simmons and assistant! I can see the sense if they were losing with a full team, but they have a similar injury situation to us, so are never going to be performing at their best. As for the Foster incident, he could easily have pulled out, the ball was grounded, it made me think of the Kiwi full back, Matthew Ridge, who was penalised plenty of times for kicking out as tries were being scored. Bone_idle18

1:13pm Mon 19 Mar 12

terrysblackchicken says...

Unity ? So they wont be fighting each other in Wibsey like they were a few weeks ago :-)
Unity ? So they wont be fighting each other in Wibsey like they were a few weeks ago :-) terrysblackchicken

1:47pm Mon 19 Mar 12

The Whole Truth says...

How would you know? I remember you being too scared to venture up there for fear of reprisals after a typically drunken and cowardly verbal assault!
How would you know? I remember you being too scared to venture up there for fear of reprisals after a typically drunken and cowardly verbal assault! The Whole Truth

8:34pm Mon 19 Mar 12

terrysblackchicken says...

How are Birkenshaw doing this year ?
How are Birkenshaw doing this year ? terrysblackchicken

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