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Slow-starting Bradford Bulls are easy prey for the Wolves
Warrington Wolves 50 Bradford Bulls 22
Mick Potter was asked after yesterday’s game how long he could continue working for the Bulls on a voluntary basis.
He paused, gave his inquisitor a weary smile and admitted he will probably have a decision to make this week.
“It’s coming to that time when everyone needs to make a call,” said Potter.
“I think it’s coming to a climax with the people who are talking to the administrators and the RFL.
“It’s coming to a head all round, so a decision will be made as to what’s happening and then I can go from there. But it won’t be too far in the distant future.”
Potter and the rest of the coaching staff have been working without pay since being made redundant four weeks ago today.
The Australian stated recently that he could afford to do so until the end of July, so much rests on whether the Bulls can find a buyer this week to stave off the grim prospect of liquidation.
Potter, Francis Cummins and Lee St Hilaire have mortgages to pay and families to feed.
They cannot continue providing their services for free indefinitely.
Like every Bulls supporter, they want a positive outcome to a nightmare few months which has left the club fighting for its very survival.
“One Mick Potter,” was the cry from the away end during the closing stages of yesterday’s defeat, the Bulls’ first outing since being docked six points for entering administration.
It remains to be seen whether Potter will still be in situ for Sunday’s home clash with Widnes, but if yesterday’s game does prove to be his last, at least the Bulls went down fighting.
They endured a truly shocking start to the game, conceding six first-half tries before they woke up and remembered they could actually perform.
Warrington, for whom full back Stefan Ratchford claimed centre stage with a four-try haul, led inside the second minute from their first set.
Straight from Sammut’s kick-off, the Wolves’ pack drove them upfield, culminating in winger Joel Monaghan plunging over in the right corner.
Sammut then kicked out on the full from the subsequent kick-off and the Bulls soon found themselves under the cosh again.
With Garreth Carvell and Adrian Morley in formidable form up front, and Lee Briers and Richie Myler pulling the strings behind them, Warrington began to pour forward in wave after wave of attacks.
A short pass from Briers invited Carvell to try and cross the line from close range but he was denied by a fine tackle from Whitehead, who moments later embarked on a break which took him past halfway.
That laid the platform for a brief spell of pressure from the Bulls and in the tenth minute they fashioned a decent handling sequence which saw the ball pass through Luke Gale, Jamie Langley, Sammut and Keith Lulia.
The move came to nothing and soon the pendulum swung back in Warrington’s favour in devastating fashion.
In the 13th minute, Briers’ neat pass found Ratchford and, although he was tackled, the Wolves quickly recycled possession and Briers’ rapier-like pass sent Myler galloping over from ten metres out.
That left Shaun Ainscough clutching at thin air and two minutes later it got worse for the Bulls winger as he and Sammut missed a kick from Briers, allowing Chris Riley to touch down in the left corner.
Three minutes later, Warrington grabbed a fourth when Myler drove at the heart of the Bradford defence, darting one way then the other before a simple pass ushered the supporting Ratchford over the line.
As Ratchford celebrated, Michael Platt, Ainscough and Sammut were all picking themselves up off the deck after being led a merry dance by Myler.
The Bulls were stunned and in the 22nd minute they shipped another try.
Briers planted a high bomb to the left corner, Riley beat Ainscough to the ball and Myler sent Simon Grix over the line.
The highly influential Briers, having failed to convert his side’s opening try, made no mistake with the next four and a 28-0 lead was no more than Warrington deserved.
Grix then had a try disallowed as the one-way traffic continued apace, with former Bulls forward David Solomona making his presence felt off the bench.
Chev Walker replaced Manase Manuokafoa, Kopczak was introduced at the expense of Bryn Hargreaves and Tom Burgess came on in place of Langley. But it did little to halt Warrington’s attacking momentum.
They scored again in the 36th minute when another flowing move was finished off in delightful fashion when Tyrone McCarthy’s short pass was met by the onrushing Ratchford.
Respite finally arrived for the Bulls on the stroke of half-time following some good work from Ainscough.
He made considerable ground inside the right channel before the Bulls moved the ball infield and Gale sent Addy crashing over from ten metres out.
Gale converted and the Bulls fans behind the posts at least had something to cheer.
Bradford began the second half in highly encouraging fashion, with Burgess and Walker making their presences felt as Warrington were pinned back towards their own line.
After Sammut had made a fine break from inside his own half, the Bulls worked the ball from right to left, where Addy was on hand to touch down for his second try.
Gale could not convert from a difficult angle but the Bulls, backed by another strong vocal following, at least had a glimmer of hope.
Minutes later, Kopczak produced a brilliant run and pass which sent the supporting Whitehead racing under the posts for a try which Gale converted.
A 32-16 scoreline may just have raised a few doubts in Warrington minds about the strength of their lead.
Probably not, though, as they scored a seventh try minutes later when Solomona emerged from a thicket of players to ground the ball.
Solomona is carrying some timber these days but his ability to sniff out a try remains intact, and Briers’ conversion left Warrington 38-16 up.
Shortly before the hour mark, Scruton got his first taste of action since March when he replaced Burgess, while Hargreaves came on for Walker.
Moments later a powerful surge from Whitehead almost put Sammut clear as the Bulls refused to lie down.
However, Myler’s burst and pass then sent Ratchford racing clear from 20 metres for his hat-trick score in the 64th minute and he soon grabbed his fourth after taking a close-range pass from Morley.
Bradford again refused to throw in the towel and Gale’s clever kick to the left corner was caught and grounded with ease by Pryce.
* John Bateman starred off the bench as England Academy cruised to a comprehensive 42-18 victory over Parramatta Juniors at Cabramatta Stadium.
Ryan Hampshire scored 26 points, including a hat-trick of tries and seven conversions – with further scores from James Duckworth, Ben Currie, John Ford and Joe Burgess.
Dave Elliott’s young guns, who won their first warm-up game against New South Wales Juniors, now face a two-Test series against the Australian Schoolboys, starting on Sunday.