JOHN Kear hailed half-back pair Dane Chisholm and Jordan Lilley as Bulls got off to a winning start on their return to the Championship.

They edged past Featherstone 17-16 at Odsal thanks to a drop goal from Chisholm with 11 minutes to go.

The match had been in doubt due to freezing temperatures and Kear felt his playmakers managed the conditions well.

Chisholm had a hand in all three tries, scoring one and setting up scores for debutant Jake Webster and George Flanagan, while Lilley was awarded the sponsors’ man of the match.

Kear said: “I thought our half-backs were really smart and I was delighted with them.

“One of the tries we scored was from a little tip-up (kick by Chisholm for the first try scored by Webster) and they did things like taking the drop goal at the right time and putting the ball out of bounds at the right time.

“But you have to have some big fellows who roll their sleeves up and work hard as well and that’s what they’ve done.”

Kear added: “Jordan likes playing here and I think he feels loved. The rest of the players like him and he can play.

“I thought Dane Chisholm played really well as well. He made some good choices and played some good rugby.”

The Bulls coach praised both sides for putting on an entertaining spectacle in tough circumstances due to the weather.

He said: “I thought the game boded well for the standard of rugby in the Championship because the conditions were awful.

“Completion rates were high, both teams asked questions and both teams were fully committed. It was a great advert for championship rugby and obviously I am extra pleased because we got the two points.

“When you looked at the weather earlier in the week, this ice and snow wasn’t supposed to last as long as it did.

“It was touch and go this morning – we understood why as it was really slippy under foot but both teams adapted really well.”

While Featherstone are a much-changed outfit under new coach Ryan Carr, they have brought in quality additions, including NRL player Cameron King.

And Kear was delighted to put one over a side expected to be among the front-runners.

He said: “I’m really pleased to beat a high-quality team. You only have to look at the personnel they had out.

“They’ve recruited very strongly from overseas and we’ve competed really well and come out on the right side of the ledger.”

Kear was pleased with all four debutants in Webster, Rhys Evans, Matty Wildie and Connor Farrell, labelling the contributions of the latter pair – who were both playing against their old club – as ‘outstanding’.