Bradford Bulls 0 Toronto Wolfpack 34

BRIAN Noble jokes that the new audience across the pond look on rugby league as a cross between NFL and MMA.

The Toronto public may still be getting to grips with the finer points of a game that is looking to break ground into North America.

But there is no doubt that they have been treated to a winning team to learn from.

As John Kear says, the Wolfpack are the benchmark for his Bradford side this coming season.

They have shown the way in how to deal with all the hype and hullaballoo that accompanies the status of being the big catch in League One’s small pond.

And a side sprinkled with Super League talent – and led by a skipper with over 160 NRL games – are predicted to have a pretty good stab at the Championship this year.

Last night was always going to be the toughest assignment of the Bulls’ pre-season marathon.

And so it proved at times, although there were spells when Bradford gave as good as they got – without having the wherewithal to convert possession into points.

The Bulls were beefed up by senior players who been given the afternoon off at Dewsbury five days earlier and handed a debut to new full back Gregg McNally.

But for the second game running, they found themselves unable to register on the scoreboard.

Toronto caused confusion at kick-off with shirt numbers that did not tally with the team sheet – and then bamboozled the Bulls with an early seven-minute burst that saw them rattle in three tries.

Captain Josh McCrone, who has spent his entire career Down Under with Canberra and St George Illawarra, showed his class with a clever side-step to create the danger for the opening score as Toronto controlled the early stages. The Aussie then provided the pass for Richard Whiting, who found a hole in the Bulls defence to burrow in by the posts.

They swiftly struck again as four minutes later, former Warrington forward Joe Westerman crashed over from Bob Beswick’s short pass.

The difference in quality was apparent once more when Ryan Brierley exploded from halfway before feeding Liam Kay to run in Toronto’s third try in the first quarter of an hour. Brierley dragged the conversion past the post but the Bulls still trailed by 16.

Toronto looked to play at speed and were forcing mistakes out of the home side. Their first attack broke down when Sam Hallas’ pass went to ground five metres out.

The game was turning scrappy but the Bulls were coming into it and camping in Toronto territory – without any end product.

Trialist Jordan Andrade introduced himself with a powerful burst to within 20 metres. They forced Toronto into back-to-back goalline drop-outs but were unable to punch it in.

The Bulls were enjoying plenty of good ball. But they seemed to run out of ideas in scoring positions and were unable to find that incisive pass to break the line.

Toronto picked it up again after the restart and scored a fourth try six minutes in. Gary Wheeler engineered a drive upfield before Ryan Brierley’s angled kick was touched down inches before it went dead by the diving Kay for his second score.

Another immediately followed when Blake Wallace broke out, carving open the retreating Bulls for full back Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e in support to finish.

Elliot Minchella was involved in some of the Bulls’ brighter moments but again they seemed to hit a brick wall with the line in sight.

Toronto had a try ruled out for obstruction just after the hour before Steve Crossley, relishing the battle against his former team-mates, showed some resistance with a trademark thumping run that needed three to stop.

He took the Bulls back within range but Minchella’s kick was swept up and Kay nearly broke clear to threaten a hat-trick.

For a team well ahead, Toronto were giving up too many penalties and were placed on a team warning following a high shot on youngster Reiss Butterworth.

The Odsal faithful were in good voice as the game petered to a close but Toronto still found time for one more as Blake Wallace took them over the 30-point mark.

BULLS: McNally, Ryan, Gibson, Smith, Grant, Pickersgill, Minchella, Crossley, Hallas, Kirk, Garside, Johnson, Goodall.
Interchange: Rickett, Burnett, Hodgson, Peltier, Davies, Butterworth, Andrade, Halafihi, Wood, King.

WOLFPACK: Laulu Togagae, Higson, Patterson, Worthington, Kay, McCrone, Wheeler, Hopkins, Beswick, Emmitt, Westerman, Bussey, Krasniqi.
Interchange: Laithwaite, Pownall, Sidlow, Wallace, Whiting, Dixon, Brierley, Ackers, Rawsthorne.