IT’S seven in a row for the Bulls but this one wasn’t as easy as many might have expected.

The team can’t say they weren’t warned. John Kear had spelled out the need to “stay humble and respectful” against the Championship new boys.

And Newcastle played their part to make the Bulls work hard to extend their impressive winning run at Odsal yesterday.

The scoreline looked harsh on Thunder and it was only in the final quarter of the game that Bradford pulled away with any comfort.

But it’s another two points in the bag ahead of next Sunday’s huge clash with unbeaten Featherstone.

The Bulls were boosted by the return of vice-captain Sam Hallas for his first Championship involvement after breaking his jaw in the Challenge Cup opener at Featherstone in March.

But they were missing the injured Mutieli Vilikijapani as well as Dan Fleming, sitting out a one-game ban for a high tackle.

Huddersfield loan duo Ashton Golding and Olly Wilson both started for the first time and David Foggin-Johnston was back on the bench.

Newcastle had won only one of their opening six games since being promoted but Kear’s pre-match briefing had focused on avoiding complacency against a “dangerous” opponent.

The Bulls wasted no time in getting off the mark, forcing a nervy kick out on the full from Reece Dean on the way to a third-minute try.

They cashed in from the resulting drive as Danny Brough’s high chip to the far corner was kept alive by Rhys Evans and Golding for Jordan Lilley to take the live ball and squeeze over the line.

Golding’s knock-on 12 metres from his own line gave Newcastle the chance to respond. But Mikey Wood was held up against his old club as he went over and then Hallas delivered a meaty hit on Dean to lodge the ball loose.

Newcastle continued to attack willingly and got their rewards on 13 minutes after an out-of-character blunder from Danny Brough.

He tried to scoop up Dean’s grubber one-handed in front of the posts but fumbled it by his feet and the Newcastle scrum half, who had followed in his kick with more hope than expectation, took full advantage of the unexpected gift.

The crowd, who had been buzzing at another chance to get back to Odsal so soon, fell silent as the Thunder proved they were ready to make a real game of it.

Jordan Lilley was caught by a tip tackle from Bob Beswick on halfway and Steve Crossley piggy-backed two would-be tacklers to take the Bulls within scoring range.

But Brandon Pickersgill’s low kick was bravely fielded by Jack Johnson on his own line to defuse the threat.

Newcastle were playing a game of percentages, happy to kick early in the count and force the Bulls to start again from deep.

The war of attrition suited the Thunder’s approach and the growing frustration among the fans mirrored the home side’s failure to break them down.

Ant Walker barrelled into Newcastle territory to lift the mood – only for Lilley to drop the ball as they gained back-to-back sets.

Ellis Robson’s kick then caused panic in the Newcastle ranks as Alex Clegg booted the ball out the back of their own in-goal.

But a Bulls knock-on from the drop-out blew that scoring opportunity and they headed for some strong words from Kear with the teams locked level at the break.

To be fair, his players knew they had been off the boil and set about to quickly make amends.

They needed a spark – and got it within a minute of the restart from the youngster the coach has called his player of the season.

Hooker Thomas Doyle jinked and weaved his way through the Thunder ranks towards the line and Robson was on his shoulder to take it over for the third try of his loan.

The Bulls’ response got even stronger with another score from their next attack. Robson so nearly went in again before Ant Walker, providing some much-needed punch, charged over from close range.

It was a special moment - his first try in competitive rugby for more than four years - and capped a lively impact from the bench.

Brad Gallagher was forced off for a medical check after a big hit from Matthew Wright rocked the young second-row’s head back. But he was soon cleared to return.

Newcastle had cleared their heads after that double scoring blow to start the half and hit back with a second try of their own, Kieran Gill finding a hole in the scrambling defence to latch on to Beswick’s short pass.

They weren’t going away, although Rhys Evans threatened to find some daylight with a lively break from his own half before Brandon Pickersgill was hauled down 10 metres short.

Brough’s drop goal that followed did at least make it a two-score advantage again – before a fourth Bulls try 10 minutes from time made sure.

Brough was the instigator with a dinked grubber and as two defenders looked at each other, Steve Crossley seized on their confusion to snatch the loose ball and finish.

The Bulls then lost playmaker Brough with an arm injury - a problem that the club fear could keep him on the sidelines for a fair while.

But it did not affect his team immediately as Doyle put the icing on the cake with a late fifth try from dummy half to seal a convincing second half.

BULLS: Pickersgill; Golding, Evans, Oakes, Brown; Brough, Lilley; Wilson, Doyle, Crossley, England, Gallagher, Hallas. Interchange: Foggin-Johnston, Robson, Scurr, Walker.

NEWCASTLE: Turner; Clegg, Wright, Halsall, Johnson; Dean, Shorrocks; Wilde, Beswick, Wood, Bailey, Gill, McAvoy. Interchange: Ta’ai, Harrison, Simons, Oakley.

BULLS MAN OF MATCH: Anthony Walker