JOHN Kear confirmed Sam Hallas suffered a broken jaw in the Bulls’ Challenge Cup loss at Featherstone.

The vice-captain’s injury was the biggest blow for Kear after a 41-16 loss in the first-round clash at the Millennium Stadium.

Kear said: “Sam’s broken his jaw. He wanted to stay on, which is credit to his bravery and tenacity.

“But you can’t leave a man out on the field when his jaw is so obviously broken.

“The plan was for him to do 65 minutes, which makes it a lot easier changing the bigger fellas.

“When he’s brought off and can’t go back out there, it scuppers your interchange plan and I thought people like Craig Hall, who’s a very clever player, picked on the big men who were tiring.

“That’s when he burned them with his pace and his evasiveness.”

The Bulls coach felt his team’s performance was a big step-up from the friendlies against Swinton and Keighley when he had questioned their application.

“That’s certainly the best we’ve played in the three games, no doubt about that,” added Kear.

“There were periods when we looked like a good rugby league team. But there were also periods when we looked pretty ordinary.

“I think that’s what we’ve got to eliminate.

“We had 20 minutes at the start of both halves when I thought we were eight out of 10 and they were followed by a 10-15 minute period when we probably four or five out of 10.

“We need to go from eight just down to six or seven so that there isn’t such a big drop.

“We’ve been a bit inconsistent but there were certainly very good signs indeed, especially when you consider the disruption we had with the injury to Sam Hallas.

“I thought the effort and application was tremendous. I’m going away very pleased because I feel that we’ll grow as the year goes on.

“We’ll obviously improve personnel-wise simply by Sam playing longer minutes and Aaron Murphy and Matty Dawson-Jones being available.

“We’ll also improve as a unit cohesively and I think some of these young men will learn from their inconsistencies.”

Featherstone coach James Webster admitted his team had been in a tough contest and praised the visitors for a “committed” effort.

Webster said: “If I was John Kear, I’d be pretty proud of my players. They came here to play and I thought they had a right go.

“Bradford are a big, experienced, powerful side and if you keep inviting them into the game like we did, they will cause problems.

“They made it hard for us and were spirited but at times we came up with some really good plays from individuals. It wasn’t that we continuously broke Bradford down.”