Betfred League One: Bradford Bulls 50 North Wales Crusaders 12

BRADFORD boxer Darren Tetley, complete with his WBO European welterweight belt, came onto the pitch at half-time and performed the important job of drawing the raffle.

However, if this Betfred League One encounter had been a 12-rounder, replacement referee Jonathan Roberts would have been tempted to stop it after eight rounds when the Bulls were leading 40-0.

That they then let visitors North Wales Crusaders win a couple of rounds in a flat second half will be of concern but there was little doubt that John Kear's side would be the ones whose hands Roberts was raising at the end of the contest.

Joe Keyes, understandably a little rusty, returned at scrum half for the hosts, Liam Kirk started at prop and Gregg McNally had sufficiently recovered from his quad injuries to be on the bench.

Dalton Grant was back on the wing, having served his one-game suspension in the midweek reserve clash against Keighley Cougars, while Elliot Minchella moved from half-back to loose forward and Sam Hallas from loose forward to hooker, with Vila Halafihi dropping to the bench.

North Wales were without full back Tommy Johnson, who scored two tries in their previous match against Coventry Bears, winger Olly Ashall, second row Jordan Case, loose forward Brad Walker and interchange Dan Norman, with winger Gavin Conroy, hooker James Dandy, second row Simon Atherton and interchanges Liam Hulme and Wellington Albert coming in.

But there was no place for former Bulls prop Samir Tahraoui, who joined Crusaders from Keighley Cougars during the week.

The Crusaders were attacking the South Bank stand on a warm afternoon, but the mercurial Dane Chisholm showed well on the left in the Bulls' first attack, only for them to be penalised for making contact with winger Dale Bloomfield in the air.

Crusaders soon evened up the penalty count by being pulled up for offside, but Chisholm, watching the man rather than the ball, knocked on under pressure.

Ethan Ryan ran the ball back with interest and found busy skipper Lee Smith, who not only spotted a gap in the middle but drew a penalty.

Worse still for the Crusaders, Chisholm then side-stepped his way over in the subsequent attack in the eighth minute and added the conversion.

However, the Bulls then gave away their second penalty and survived a Crusaders try by Bloomfield, which was ruled out for offside in the build up.

But the Wrexham-based visitors then paid a heavy price for conceding their third penalty, again for offside, as the Bulls moved the ball left for Smith to bulldoze his way over, with Chisholm adding a superb 15th-minute conversion from the touchline.

North Wales were struggling to cope with the home side's speed at the ruck, and shipped another penalty, with Smith making them pay with his second try, taking a blow to the head into the bargain.

However, despite Chisholm being a fraction further infield, he missed the kick at goal but it was still 16-0 after 18 minutes.

Crusaders were pinged for their fifth penalty inside the opening quarter, but they survived because of a Smith knock-on, and were in attacking mode when the Bulls were penalised, although the visitors could make nothing of it.

The Bulls had the crowd of 3,112 were on their feet in the 25th minute, however, with a superb try, with Chisholm making the break and full back Brandon Pickersgill going over, despite being under pressure from a crop of yellow shirts both when he took the ball and when he dived over the line.

Chisholm's conversion made it 22-0.

The leaders then had to show their defensive prowess but missed an opportunity late in the first half when a Smith inside pass to Ethan Ryan was ruled forward.

An acrobatic Ashley Gibson almost made something happen on the right wing but the even more flexible Ryan had a little more space on the left to go over for the Bulls' fifth try, and Chisholm ended a happy half for the home side by stroking over the conversion for an interval score of 28-0.

The visitors had centre Alex Trumper sin-binned early in the second half for an illegal challenge on Grant, and the Bulls wasted no time in making them pay.

Second-row forward Matty Garside skated over some 30 seconds later, and Chisholm's goal made it 34-0 against a side who had won three of their last four matches.

Keyes then rightly backed himself to get try number seven in the 46th minute as the Crusaders' challenge was disintegrating.

Chisholm was eventually handed a ball to take the kick at goal and his successful attempt landed in the first tier of the hospitality boxes as it became 40-0.

The game then went into a lull before the Bulls conceded their first penalty of the half on the hour, and a bounce pass found its way left to give North Wales a two-on-one, with winger Bloomfield going over and loose forward Kenny Baker adding a fine touchline conversion.

Crusaders were then handed another attacking opportunity from another penalty, and a kick through ricocheted into the hands of second-row forward Atherton for a simple try.

Baker's second goal made it 40-12 and there were murmurs among the Bulls faithful.

The visitors were then denied what would have been a wonderful third try when Ryan Smith's pass to Baker was ruled forward, with a furious Baker then throwing the ball fiercely into the ground in frustration.

The home fans were the next to be disgruntled when Ryan was ruled to have been held before giving a try-scoring pass to Garside.

However, the first offence was a knock-on by Crusaders full back Ryan Smith, and the Bulls cashed in when Lee Smith slipped a pass to Ryan on the left touchline for his second try.

Chisholm, who had landed six of his seven goals, then horribly sliced the goal attempt.

A great take from Ryan from a Chisholm kick then gave him time to slip Garside in for his second try, and Chisholm brought up the half-century with a simple conversion.

The scrum half then caught his own sublime chip and chase to set the crowd alight again but lost the ball in a tackle with full back Ryan Smith when he could have either gone himself or passed left to Ryan.

The victory, which came at a cost as Hallas suffered a 'dead leg', McNally was withdrawn due to a tight quad and Mikey Wood limped off inside the final five minutes, proved that Kear's side are indeed a top-of-the-ground team but their second-half lapse will have given heart to Whitehaven when the Cumbrians host the leaders next Sunday.

Player ratings

Bulls: Pickersgill 8; Grant 6, Gibson 6, L Smith 8, Ryan 7; Keyes 6, Chisholm 7; Crossley 8, Hallas 6, Kirk 6, Garside 8, Laithwaite 6, Minchella 6. Interchange: McNally 6, Wood 7, Peltier 8, Halafihi 6.

Crusaders: R Smith 7; Conroy 5, Thompson 5, Trumper 5, Bloomfield 7; Roper 6, Lyons 5; Walker 6, Dandy 5, Bate 6, Houghton 5, Atherton 7, Baker 7. Interchange: Moore 6, Hulme 5, Brennan 6, Albert 6.