Bradford Bulls: Platt's fan club set to expand after his wonder show against London (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford Bulls: Michael Platt's fan club set to expand after his wonder show against London Broncos
London Broncos 22 Bradford Bulls 29
The banner held aloft before, during and after the game in the raucous away end said it all.
Michael Platt’s Barmy Army.
It goes everywhere a group of supporters with a particular devotion to the Bulls centre.
Yesterday Platt really did take centre stage.
He rewarded his fanatical followers with a stunning four-try haul, destroying London Broncos after Bradford trailed 16-0 after just ten minutes.
It was a truly shocking start and the three tries which London scored were no more than they deserved.
But then Mick Potter’s men woke up and made their class tell.
Platt’s four fine finishes, after a well-taken score from Karl Pryce, were just reward for a highly impressive fightback.
The Bulls overcame dogged opponents to gradually dominate proceedings and nil their hosts in the second half.
While Platt hogged the headlines, this was yet another victory for spirit.
To come back from three tries down and win away from home is not easy.
It was not pretty at times either.
You need a certain kind of unity, a refusal to buckle when the going gets tough.
The Bulls did that and more, claiming a fifth win from six away games and providing more evidence of their potential to end three years of failure and claim a play-off berth.
It is worth remembering that when Wigan condemned Bradford to a second heavy home defeat in succession back in February, Potter’s ability to last the season was questioned by some.
Now, questions will be asked if he does not continue the excellent work he is carrying out by signing a contract extension to keep him at Odsal beyond 2012.
This Bulls team may not be blessed with too many star names when compared to previous Bradford teams of the not-too-distant past but there is an unmistakable spirit and never-say-die attitude to it.
Perhaps the club’s financial crisis really has brought them even closer together.
Goodness knows what they might be capable of when Potter has a fully-fit squad at his disposal, as he is hoping to have later in the season.
At this rate, it will be a bitter disappointment if they do not maintain their current progress and finish in the top eight.
Even after victory, Potter spoke of his frustration at his side’s woeful start. He talked of striving for perfection.
It is that kind of meticulous approach which underpins Potter’s philosophy but watching the first ten minutes of yesterday’s game on dvd will make for painful viewing.
Elliot Kear returned to the Bulls’ starting line-up at full back after missing the past nine games since sustaining a badly-broken wrist against Warrington on March 3.
Yet London enjoyed a blistering start and tore into their visitors by scoring three tries inside the opening ten minutes, with prop Antonio Kaufusi punching some early holes in the Bradford defence and loose forward Chris Bailey also highly influential.
Craig Gower, the veteran scrum half, dovetailed superbly with Michael Witt and hooker Chad Randall. Gower, who had celebrated his 34th birthday with a virtuoso performance in London’s Challenge Cup win at Batley seven days earlier, orchestrated the game’s opening try.
He found former Bradford second rower Matt Cook advancing forward at pace on the visitors’ 40-metre line. Cook burst past a clutch of statuesque Bradford defenders and showed intelligence to usher full back Michael Robertson clear.
Witt added the extras and five minutes later it got worse for the Bulls as Cook went over after a missed tackle from Luke Gale, who went on to play a pivotal role against his erstwhile employers.
London were utterly dominant and were rewarded further in the tenth minute when Randall’s neat short offload sent centre Michael Channing over in the right corner.
Witt failed to convert but Bradford gradually steadied themselves and Gale’s high hanging kick to the left corner was superbly caught and grounded by Pryce in the 17th minute.
Gale, who showcased his kicking skills with a superb 40-20, added a brilliant touchline conversion and, nine minutes later, Bradford struck again when Platt finished off in the right corner after a fine handling sequence involving several players.
Four minutes before the interval, London scored their fourth when the influential Bailey broke the Bulls’ line and sent the supporting Witt scampering under the posts for a try which he converted himself.
Crucially, Bradford – or rather Platt – struck twice in quick succession before and after the break to lay the platform for victory.
First Danny Addy’s quick pass led to Platt grabbing his second in the right corner, with Gale’s conversion leaving the scores at 22-16 in London’s favour at the break.
Two minutes after the restart, Platt collected a neat short pass from Elliott Whitehead to go over in the right corner yet again and Gale’s conversion levelled matters.
Chances continued to proliferate but the Bulls’ last-tackle options let them down at times as they failed to make their field position pay.
London became a shadow of the side who had enjoyed such a fine opening quarter as the Bulls constantly pinned them back towards their own line.
Bradford dominated the second half and Shaun Ainscough almost burrowed over in the 57th minute and then Gale was denied by a fine last-ditch tackle by Robertson.
Moments later, Heath L’Estrange’s flat pass almost sent Gale over again before more fine defending stopped him just short of the line. Bradford finally
led for the first time in the 62nd minute when Ben Jeffries and Kear combined to send Platt over in the right corner.
Gale could not convert but he twice went agonisingly close to capping a fine display with a try against his old club.
He was held up just short on both occasions but grew in authority as the game wore on as tensions mounted following a flare-up involving Craig Kopczak and Broncos prop Mark Bryant.
But Gale kicked a late penalty to give the Bulls further breathing space before landing a late drop-goal to give the visiting fans plenty of reasons to cheer on their journey home last night.