Betfred League One: Whitehaven 20 Bradford Bulls 27

VILA Halafihi, almost the last Bulls hooker standing, scored a late try to help see the Bulls over the line after a proper examination at the Recreation Ground.

The cash-strapped home side had pulled back to 21-20 down but the Betfred League One leaders survived the test of nerve in what was a great advert for the division.

Tries for the Bulls came from Joe Keyes (2), Steve Crossley and, of course, Halafihi, with Chisholm adding five goals and Keyes a drop goal.

Whitehaven replied with tries by Jordan Burns, Dion Aiye and Josh Eaves, with Ellis Gillam and Daniel Abram (3) landing goals for the hosts.

Halafihi, as expected, started at hooker though Sam Hallas was on the bench alongside Liam Johnson.

Hallas had recovered from the 'dead leg' suffered against Crusaders to provide back-up for Halafihi.

Out for Whitehaven from their defeat at Newcastle Thunder the previous weekend were winger David Thompson, centre Chris Taylor, second row Ellis Graham, with Liam Cooper dropping to the bench and Kris Coward and Jesse Joe Nandye being promoted from the bench. Aye reverted from stand-off to the second row.

Whitehaven won the first penalty of the match but Callum Phillips' kick skewed into the in-goal area and was run by back by Ethan Ryan.

However, Whitehaven scored the first try from a shallow up and under from former Bulls loanee Stuart Howarth, with the ball being tapped back in the air as Brandon Pickersgill contested it for Jordan Burns to score, with Ellis Gillam adding the goal.

The visitors then missed a counter-attacking opportunity as Chisholm's inside pass went astray, and Haven full back Abram adds kicked the penalty to make it 8-0.

The leaders then won a penalty after a hand in the ruck, and Chisholm's kick took the Bulls into the Cumbrian's half.

The Aussie's kick to the corner then forced a goal-line drop-out as Ryan contested the kick.

Dalton Grant, who saw little of the ball against the Crusaders the previous week, almost went over on the right.

Pickersgill nearly knocked the ball forward near halfway but it didn't matter as Joe Keyes soon backed himself to score and did so as the Bulls took the lead in the second quarter, with Chisholm's goal making it 12-8 after 21 minutes.

The watching John Keyes said that son Joe's try was better than his father's day present of Amazon vouchers!

Chisholm almost went in for a try after a Whitehaven fumble but was just denied as he chased his kick through, and got off the floor rubbing his temple after a possible clash of heads.

The penalty count was levelled at 3-3 as the Bulls continued to press in the Whitehaven half, but Elliot Minchella knock on relieved pressure.

A cute Chisholm kick forced another goal-line drop-out, and he soon landed a penalty to make it 14-8.

Chisholm then showed great hands in defence in fielding a kick through soon after interchange Ross Peltier had knocked on in difficult conditions.

The Bulls were awarded their fifth penalty of the half in 36th minute as the action livened up on the field and in the main stand as spectators exchanged "banter".

Meanwhile, Haven half-back Phillips had to come off the field having received treatment and looked very groggy as he was led to the changing rooms.

A well-weighted kick by Lee Smith almost gave Ryan the chance to pounce inside the final 30 seconds of the half, with Ryan jogging back after treatment.

The Bulls then won a penalty in added time but Chisholm, on the 40-metre line, pulled the penalty to the left of the posts to signal the end of the half.

Whitehaven were soon awarded a penalty to make the penalty count 6-6 early in the second period.

They made it count too as 90 seconds in Aiye plunged over, and Abram's goal kick was easy to make it 14-14.

Another Chisholm kick to the left-hand corner forced Whitehaven into a third goal-line drop-out but Chisholm's pass was then picked off by Phillips.

The start of the second half was punctuated by injuries but the Bulls went in for their third try from a home error, with Steve Crossley running strongly and Keyes followed up to go over for his second try, with Chisholm's goal making it 20-14.

The Bulls forced a fourth goal-line drop-out just after the hour after a kick early in the tackle count, and Keyes popped over a drop goal to extend the margin to seven points.

Chisholm was forced to concede a goal-line drop-out in the 66th minute but good reactions by Crossley ensured that it came to nothing, stopping a kick through with his boot and then dropping on the ball.

The Bulls conceded another penalty to give the hosts a lift but Pickersgill smothered a kick through and won a penalty with ten minutes left.

Whitehaven were handed a late chance to win the game when Eaves scored with three minutes to go, and Abram's goal made it 21-20 to the Bulls.

However, the end of the match was played in the Whitehaven half as they were forced to concede another goal-line drop-out and Halafihi then scored a late try to ensure victory, with Chisholm adding the goal.