Match Report: Bradford Bulls v Toronto Wolfpack
Toronto Wolfpack have survived another tight contest and extended their winning streak to 17 with an electrifying 20-25 win over Bradford Bulls at Odsal Stadium in West Yorkshire. The victory takes the Wolfpack’s season record to 22-1 and continues their strong run towards a huge playoffs series that will feature a consistent home-field advantage for the Toronto side.
The clash got off to a quick start, with Wolfpack winger Ricky Leutele opening the scoring in just the sixth minute with his 14th try of the season before Bulls speedster Jy Hitchcox responded shortly after with a stunning sidestep that put him into space and opened up a path to the try line.
From there it was all Bradford for the remainder of the opening half, with Bulls veteran Jake Webster crossing the line in the 25th minute after refusing to be tackled by a determined Wolfpack defense. Former Wolfpack player Steve Crossley then plunged a dagger into his old side when he found a way to ground the ball for his fifth try of the season right on the half-hour mark.
Bradford were superb throughout the opening forty minutes, taking the game to the visiting Wolfpack with confidence and strength. Excellent in attack, they were also solid in defense, with multiple try-saving tackles punctuating their first-half performance. The Bulls’ efforts ensured they entered the break with a richly-deserved 14-point lead that left the Wolfpack with plenty of work to do.
It was a hungry Wolfpack that emerged from the sheds, with Ricky Leutele starting the second half the same way he did the first, registering a quick try after working hard to get himself into wide open space. Nick Rawsthorne then brought the margin back to four points thanks to some quick work out of dummy-half from Andy Ackers and within five minutes of the restart the Wolfpack were right back in the battle.
They would take the lead just past the 50th minute through Liam Kay’s seventh four-pointer of the season and the subsequent conversion from Hakim Miloudi. Toronto’s dominance in the opening minutes of the second half was built on the back of consistent work from Miloudi, Ackers and Joe Mellor who lifted their side through their energy and creative play. It was a brave performance from Miloudi in particular after a first half that saw the French international cop multiple bit hits that could be heard across the Atlantic.
The final ten minutes were a frantic mix of penalties and line-breaks that had the Bradford crowd in full voice, but it was an inch-perfect kick from Blake Wallace and a crafty collection from Nick Rawsthorne that saw the winger collect a double and put the result beyond doubt in the dying minutes. The siren would eventually sound on the sensational contest with the Wolfpack leading by five in the scorebook.
The Wolfpack now head back to Toronto where they will finish their regular season fixtures with four consecutive games at Lamport Stadium. They are already guaranteed two playoff fixtures in the city as well thanks to qualifying as the top seed so Canadian fans have plenty to look forward to in coming weeks. Tickets are available for all remaining games, excluding playoffs, and so fans are encouraged to secure theirs now.
6’ Try Wolfpack: Leutele 0-4
16’ Try Bulls: Hitchcox. Conversion: Keyes 6-4
25’ Try Bulls: Webster. Conversion: Keyes 12-4
29’ Try Bulls: Crossley. Conversion: Keyes 18-4
Half Time: 18 – 4
43’ Try Wolfpack: Leutele. Conversion: Wallace 18-10
45’ Try Wolfpack: Rawsthrone 18-14
52’ Try Wolfpack: Kay. Conversion: Miloudi 18-20
60’ Drop Goal Wolfpack: Miloudi. 18-21
74’ Penalty Bulls: Keyes 20-21
76’ Try Wolfpack: Rawsthorne 20-25
Full Time: 20-25