FOR Bulls fans used to seeing top-quality fly-halves Jordan Lilley, Joe Keyes and Danny Brough kicking goals for them earlier in the season, Sunday's 24-21 defeat in a gripping West Yorkshire derby with Halifax threw up a couple of surprises.

Sam Hallas, playing at loose forward, was handed the duties from the tee, despite Lilley's earlier than expected return from a rib injury, while hooker George Flanagan slotted home a late drop goal to add to his conversion against Featherstone last week.

Hallas, who was getting coaching lessons from Brough ahead of kick-off, did a reasonable enough job, making two of his four conversion attempts, but with Lilley on the field all game, it was an interesting decision to say the least.

But Bulls head coach John Kear explained: "I think Sam did a good job. He played 80 minutes in the middle and he's done that as well.

"We wanted to try and alleviate some responsibility off Jordan Lilley, because as we've said before, the number of times we've had two half-backs on the field this season have been few and far between.

"He had a lot of responsibility to run the team out there did Jordan, and he did a great job.

"Sam is a good goal-kicker, he used to do that in his junior days, and he was happy to take that role on."

Kear added: "Jordan came through the game okay, he's a tough cookie. To play four weeks after you've broken your ribs and to do as well as he did was a big pat on the back for him."

Another player needing a pat on the back was young Tom Doyle, with the hooker scoring a typical try of his, burrowing over under the sticks at the end of the first half.

Praising the 22-year-old, Kear said: "I think Doyley is maturing into a very good player.

"He even played a bit at 13 today (Sunday), which he had to as we had to move players around in the second half.

"He's developing into a top player."

Versatile forward Jordan Baldwinson showed some good signs on his second Bulls debut. His loan from York is only due to be for a week, but could we see him stick around for a bit longer?

Kear said: "I liked what I saw of him out there, but that's up to York.

"There's a rivalry between York and Bradford but they did us a massive favour there.

"I'd like to publicly thank James Ford and Jon Flatman for their efforts to help us.

"I thought Jordan was marvellous and it was a really good 40 plus minutes that he put in."

Baldwinson was only brought in at the 11th hour after Dan Fleming (knee) and Ben Evans (isolation) were forced to sit the Fax game out.

Asked if it had been a tough week, Kear said: "It's been a tough but a good one, especially with a game like that, against a team like Halifax, at the end of it.

"It was a great game, with a great atmosphere, in a very good stadium, so I really enjoyed the occasion, if not the result.

"We're looking forward to another good week now before taking on Sheffield at Odsal."

Kear expressed how proud he was of his patched-up side, saying: "I don't want to pick out individuals too much because in all honesty it was a 17-man effort.

"I thought George Flanagan was really clever coming off the bench and landing that one-pointer late on and there were lots of little things like that you could applaud.

"So let's praise the team, who played as a team, and there were some great individual performances within that."

Asked whether his depleted side could take heart from running play-off rivals Featherstone and Halifax close in successive weeks, Kear said: "It gives us hope going into those final seven rounds of the season.

"We've played two 'play-off' games in the last two weeks and come the wrong side of the scoreline, but could have won both with a bit more smartness.

"We've just got to dust ourselves down now and go forward."

But one thing that might not be going forward any further is a World Cup in 2021.

Giving his take on the current situation, Wales head coach Kear said: "There's no chance of getting Australia or New Zealand on board, but if they could get Indigenous and Maori sides in their place, that would be great.

"There was a Maori team that competed at the World Cup in 2000, so it's been done before.

"I hope we can get the World Cup on this year, as it's taken a lot of hard work to get to this stage.

"I'm still very hopeful about it."

The likes of Ant Walker, Ben Evans and Elliot Kear will be hoping for places in Kear's Wales squad, but asked if the tournament had been on their minds, the Bulls head coach said: "It's still a long way away and all the lads are doing now is concentrating on the league."

As it stands, Kear's side are due to be in Group D of the World Cup, which would see them take on Tonga, Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands.