BULLS saw their comeback party fall flat yesterday, with John Kear’s side going down to a slightly disappointing 26-22 pre-season defeat at home to Swinton Lions.

Bradford moved into a commanding 18-6 lead just after the break when Matty Dawson-Jones scored their third try.

But some sloppy defending from the hosts saw Swinton turn things around to go 22-18 in front, before the ever-reliable George Flanagan pulled Kear’s men level.

Rhodri Lloyd was the match-winner though, crossing for the winning score in the left corner with five minutes remaining.

Bulls went with a strong starting-line up, with Danny Brough partnering Jordan Lilley at half-back and Reece Hamlett, Brad England and Dan Fleming making their debuts.

Trialist Anthony Walker made a surprise start at prop, the former Super League man’s first game in over three years after overcoming a brain condition.

Swinton were looking dangerous in the first few minutes, and full-back Mike Butt tried to stab the ball through.

But Dawson-Jones made a brilliant catch on the full, broke away to the halfway line, then offloaded to Brandon Pickersgill, who ran in unchallenged to score.

Brough subsequently scored his first points for Bulls, with an easy conversion from in front of the posts.

Flanagan was proving a threat early on, winning a penalty on halfway, before being held up on the line following a clever offload from captain Steve Crossley.

Ross Oakes really should have increased Bulls’ advantage at the end of a fine move.

Brough, who pulled the strings in the first half with that highly-regarded kicking game of his, clipped a lovely little dink out to the left.

That led to a smart tip down by Dawson-Jones, but Oakes somehow failed to get the ball down in the corner under Swinton pressure.

Dawson-Jones was having a fine first half, and he was almost in for a score on the left, but the final pass was a little too high, and it slipped from his grasp and out of play.

Lilley was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes for a late tackle on Jack Hansen and the visitors nearly went over for a try straight after, but couldn’t quite force their way through.

Bulls made them pay moments later, despite only having 12 men. Brilliant work from Ebon Scurr saw him wriggle away from a couple of tackles, and though he was brought down, Brough was then able to feed Pickersgill, who popped it to the left for Oakes to cross for the score.

A fine conversion from Brough out wide made it 12-0.

But Swinton did eventually make the most of their man advantage, with Lloyd streaking clear down the right before feeding the ball to Hansen for a simple try, with Martyn Ridyard adding the extras.

It was a deserved score for the visitors, who had found themselves in threatening positions on a few occasions in the first half, but had been let down by a poor final pass or the wrong decision.

And they knew they’d have to make the most of their chances in attack when they went further behind just after the break.

Some early second half pressure from Bulls eventually saw Swinton crack, with the ball fed out wide to Dawson-Jones, who ran in to score from a few yards out on the left.

Young Billy Jowitt came on for Brough after the interval, and he knocked over an excellent conversion to make it 18-6.

Replacement hooker Tom Doyle was held up on the line to prevent a fourth Bulls try, and that proved costly when Geronimo Doyle swept a lovely pass out to Butt on the left-wing, who scored in the corner to make it 18-10.

Bulls, by this point a much-changed outfit, started to get a bit sloppy.

Hansen wriggled through a few half-hearted tackles and offloaded for Geronimo Doyle to score a converted try, before replacement Deane Meadows eased past a couple of nothing challenges to give Swinton the lead, with Ridyard knocking over the extras.

Bulls got their act together, with concerted pressure on the Swinton goalline leading to Flanagan bringing them level, but Jowitt missed a relatively simple conversion, before trialist Brad Calland fluffed an easy drop goal chance to put the hosts ahead.

The winning score came after good work from Swinton down the left, with Hansen feeding Lloyd to put the visiting side back in front.

Hansen’s kick hit the post, but it didn’t matter, as Swinton pulled off a fine win.

With no game for a year, and 27 men in the Bulls squad, it would be unfair to read too much into the defeat.

But Kear will certainly be hoping for a little more cohesion in this coming Saturday’s home friendly with Keighley Cougars.