AFTER Bradford City were denied a point on Saturday following a controversial refereeing decision, lightning struck in the same place for Bradford Bulls today.

They were trailing Widnes Vikings 25-20 in the last minute of a thrilling Betfred Championship encounter at Halton Stadium when Elliot Minchella had a try ruled out for obstruction.

Had it been awarded, as Bulls head coach John Kear felt it should have been, it would have left Bulls man-of-the-match Minchella with a simple kick to win the match.

Kear said that referee Gareth Hewer was going to give the try but was persuaded not to by touch judge Liam Rush.

Kear said: “I am mystified by it all because we had given ourselves a great chance of coming back from a 12-0 deficit.

“We finished with a real flourish and we scored a try (by James Green), so we are only five points behind with minutes remaining.

“There will be arguments aplenty whether there was a try from Elliot Minchella or not.

“My opinion is that the referee Gareth Hewer was going to award the try to Elliot Minchella but obviously he has overruled himself and gone with the advice of the touch judge.

“Whether or not he is right, I don’t think he is. It was the touch judge that didn’t give the try.”

Kear added: “If the referee backs his instincts and gives the try we have won.

“It is as simple as that, and that is the top and bottom of it because it was the death knell of the game.

“We are obviously very disappointed. I think when Elliot Minchella receives the ball outside of Steve Crossley, he is certainly deep enough not to have affected any Widnes player.

“What we have seen on the replay is Jack Owens taking the easy option of playing for a penalty, which is something I don’t really like in the modern game, but it is something that has crept in.”

The Bulls played a full part in an exciting encounter on the Halton Stadium’s 4G pitch, with tries from winger David Foggin-Johnston, second-row forward Connor Farrell and interchange James Green, with Minchella adding four goals.

Tries for the Vikings, who are now on minus two points after going into administration, came from wingers Keanan Brand and, on St Patrick’s Day, Irish international Ryan Ince, stand-off Danny Craven and hooker James Johnstone, with full back Owens landing four goals and Craven a drop goal.