ON an emotional day at Odsal for Bradford Bulls, their play-off dream finally died, despite an impressive 30-10 win over Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Eagles.

The club are leaving the famous old ground after 85 years but they had to keep their minds focused, with an important on-field task at hand.

Bulls had to win and hope that fifth-placed side Featherstone Rovers suffered a surprise away defeat at lowly Batley Bulldogs.

That didn’t happen, as ex-Bradford man Dane Chisholm scored 32 points for Fev in a crushing 64-0 win, meaning the gap is now too big to bridge with a single game left.

The Bulls still signed off in style, with an especially scintillating second-half performance seeing them put six tries past a strong Sheffield side.

That performance, and Odsal, were celebrated raucously at the final whistle, with many of the huge 7,531 crowd coming on to the pitch to soak in the atmosphere for one last time.

Those in attendance were treated to spectacular scenes before the game too, with a parade around the pitch featuring cheerleaders, youngsters, motorbikes and the emergency services drawing loud cheers.

There was also a stunning rendition of Nessun Dorma on the pitch before kick off, followed by a sombre note, as the crowd gathered to applaud Archie Bruce, the young Batley player who sadly passed away hours after his debut against Toulouse Olympique last month.

The game itself started slowly, with several knock-ons and unforced errors disrupting any momentum.

Joe Keyes soon lit up the ground though, with a stunning solo try. He took the ball from 50 metres out, slalomed his way past four, five, six players and took the long way round to go over in the corner.

He converted his own effort to make it 6-0 but Sheffield soon scored a try of their own. Greg Burns was held up on the line but his side came straight back at Bulls.

Joel Farrell read a kick through from Patrick Walker perfectly, and he burst between Jake Webster and Keyes to pick up and score.

Walker’s conversion slid wide to leave the visitors 6-4 down and they fell further behind when Jordan Lilley worked the ball out to Webster on the right.

He looked as if he would come up just short but eventually flopped his way over the line at the second attempt. Keyes crashed over the conversion to make it 12-4.

It was a fractious game throughout. Jordan Lilley looked to have been poleaxed by a high tackle just before half-time, which wasn’t given by referee Billy Pearson, and then matters boiled over right on the hooter.

Connor Farrell took exception to a decision and was subsequently sent to the sin-bin for dissent by an unimpressed Pearson.

That meant the Eagles were a man up at the start of the second half and they took full advantage just before Farrell’s reintroduction into the contest.

Aaron Brown found an ocean of space in the centre of the Bulls’ half and he popped the ball left to young James Meadows, in off the interchange bench, who went over the score.

Walker converted, putting Sheffield right back into the contest at 12-10 down.

Back to the full complement, the hosts soon extended their lead. Rhys Evans was held up on the line but the ball was worked backwards and Bradford duo Brandon Pickersgill and Ross Peltier combined to ensure a third try, as the latter barged his way over.

That try seemed to break the back of the contest, with Bulls starting to enjoy themselves.

Another Bradford lad, Ethan Ryan, grabbed his 20th of the season. Brilliant work saw the ball make its way across the field, from left to right.

Evans flicked the final ball to Ryan, who strolled over in the corner. Keyes, who had converted Peltier’s try, finally missed from the tee, as he slammed a tough kick from the touchline off the post.

Joel Farrell then went to the bin for Sheffield, following a set to with Bulls’ Lilley, and Bradford made him pay for that ill-discipline.

The next try rivalled Keyes’ solo effort in the first half. Great work from Pickersgill in particular saw the ball fed to Jy Hitchcox on the left wing.

He sprinted towards the line but his pass backwards was blocked by Sheffield’s Anthony Thackeray. The ball ran loose but an inspired dive by Ross Oakes saw him keep the ball in play.

He somehow managed to flick it behind to Pickersgill, who went in for a simple score. Keyes set his conversion out wide, but could not quite bend it in enough for the two points.

Sheffield’s discipline was crumbling by this point, and following another electric run by Keyes, the visitors conceded two quick penalties.

It allowed Bulls to make big territorial gains, and they punished Sheffield with their sixth and final try.

The ball came to Lilley around 15 metres out and he looped a gorgeous pass, just out of reach of the opposition defence, over to Evans who darted over for what would be the final try at Odsal.

Lilley took over kicking duties, but he missed too, with three missed conversions in a row one of the only blemishes on a fine afternoon for Bulls.

Sheffield had the final set but they could not make anything of it, as the hosts closed the game out for a comfortable 30-10 win.

Encouraged by the club, fans poured on to the pitch after the final hooter, with the players sticking around for chats and selfies.

There was a real feelgood atmosphere - mixed with sadness of course - as fans savoured the final moments watching Bulls at their historic ground. With the play-offs slipping away, it simply became a celebration of Odsal.

Following this fine win, Bulls will hope to sign off in style with a win at rock-bottom Rochdale Hornets on Sunday, before temporarily moving to Dewsbury, for the start of a new dawn.

Hopefully the uncertainty surrounding the club’s future will be lifted sooner rather than later, and Bulls can look forward to a tilt towards the promised land of Super League next season.