BRADFORD Bulls warmed up for the Championship season in style, beating Batley Bulldogs 14-12 to claim the Yorkshire Cup.

John Kear's came up against the Bulldogs in their penultimate pre-season fixture before the start of the Championship on February 3.

It’s the first time in 30 years the Bulls have lifted the Yorkshire Cup, but Batley didn’t make it easy for them and this was far from a friendly.

The first half was one for fans of stoic and hardened defensive plays with both teams struggling to break the lines of their opponents.

Batley Bulldogs didn’t let the ground's infamous slope stop them from putting some early pressure on the Bulls, as they stormed forward uphill again and again.

They were beginning to warm into the game as the half progressed and piled the pressure onto the Bulls line but, against the run of play, a Ross Oakes interception in the 28th minute proved fatal for them.

The Bulls centre plucked the attempted pass by Louis Jouffret from the air and charged free to score the first try of the match under the posts.

A smooth follow-up conversion from Rowan Milnes gave the Bulls a late half lead.

Batley didn’t let the setback stop them, though, and James Brown led the way.

On the 34th minute, a Brown drive from, around 20 metres from the Bulls try line, saw six or seven Bulls players try and take the ball from him but he batted them off.

The Bulldogs couldn’t make the pressure tell, though, thanks to some heroic defending from the Bradford Bulls.

Perhaps most pleasing to the eyes of Bulls fans was a thundering tackle from returning captain Steve Crossley, 30 metres out from his try line.

Despite playing his first game since coming back from a shoulder injury, Crossley combined power and pace to make a huge challenge on Keenen Tomlinson – who went off following the tackle.

The to and fro nature of the first half was compounded moments later when Batley were digging in deep to prevent a Bulls try and Johnny Campbell managed to intercept a pass on his own try line.

He proceeded to sprint uphill past the half line, but the Bulls line regrouped and dealt with the breakaway.

Tensions were heightened just before the end of the first half when Batley’s Dane Manning came flying in late and high on Bulls’ George Flanagan.

Flanagan already had a bloodied head strap on thanks to previous battles in the match and he’d been stoking up opposition players himself on numerous occasions by getting in their face.

But Manning’s challenge went unpunished and the heat between the two camps boiled over right as the half-time hooter sounded with a mass brawl breaking out.

In the aftermath, the referee gave a yellow to both Brown and Flanagan.

Both teams started the second 40 with 12 on the pitch thanks to the sin-bins for Brown and Flanagan.

Batley came out meaning business and had a try less than five minutes into the half, courtesy of Campbell who snuck over the Bulls try line from about a metre out.

Dave Scott ensured the Bulldogs went level with the Bulls by converting the kick.

This early pressure continued, but the return of both team’s sin-binned players 10 minutes in seemingly ignited the Bradford camp who pressed hard to go back in front.

The Bulls moved from left to right over and over, creeping into the Bulldog’s 10-metre zone and the hosts' frustrations told when Toby Everett was the third player to be sin-binned after a late shot left Matthew Wildie on the deck.

There were some shouts for a Bulls try, right under the posts, in the following play, but the referee deemed Green to have been held up.

It was Flanagan who attracted much of the attention from the Batley players, who gave a number of penalties away against the Bradford man.

Bulls took advantage of this, when the kicking tee was pulled out for a penalty in the 55th minute which Jordan Lilley converted to take a narrow lead at 8-6.

There was a heart in mouth moment for Bulls’ fans on the 60th minute, when dropping the ball during an attacking play led to 60-metre charge from Wayne Reittie on the Bulldogs’ right wing.

He managed to weave around as the Bulls players caught up, but it was a slip that eventually caused his downfall and Bradford were able to get rid of the danger.

After two further sin-bins, Flanagan again for the Bulls and Lewis Galbraith for the Bulldogs, the Bulls seemed to be home and dry with a well worked 70th-minute try.

The ball was moved nicely to the left through Lilley and Brandon Pickersgill before making its way to Jake Webster.

It seemed the Bulls man had been caught, but as he was clattered, he managed to work the ball on with a deft flick to Ethan Ryan, who swerved towards touch and back into the bodies and past the try line to give a better angle for the kick.

Another Lilley conversion left Bulls in the driving seat at 14-6 but the Bulldogs weren’t done yet.

A frantic final five saw Dom Brambani score a try in the 76th minute, despite having a man clinging onto his legs as he worked his way over the line.

The conversion meant the Bulldogs were only two points short of the Bulls, but despite some hard pressure in the final moments, Bradford Bulls were able to keep their cool and gain enough ground to be in control of their destiny at the sound of the hooter.

Bulls: Pickersgill, Evans, Gibson, Oakes, Ryan, Milnes, Lilley, Kirk, Wildie, Magrin, Farrell, Minchella, Wood. Interchanges: Hitchcox, Webster, Crossley, Flanagan, Green, Storton, Milton.

Bulldogs: Scott, Reittie, Wood, Galbraith, Campbell, Jouffret, Brambani, Gledhill, Leak, Everett, Manning, Downs, Dickinson. Interchanges: Brown, Smeaton, Hemingway, Bretherton, Ward, Yates, Tomlinson.