Match Report – Toronto Wolfpack vs Bradford Bulls
Toronto Wolfpack have ended their first home stand of the 2019 Season with a resounding 36-16 triumph over Bradford Bulls in chilly conditions at Lamport Stadium. The victory sees the Wolfpack keep a grip on their two game lead at the top of the Betfred Championship standings with a record of 12-1 and sets the scene for a top of the table clash with Toulouse Olympique in a fortnights time back in the UK.
Despite the cold temperatures, 8,363 fans filed through the gates and they witnessed a hard fought opening ten minutes, with both sides gaining territory but unable to make the most of it on the scoreboard. Nick Rawsthorne and Andrew Dixon had the best chances to register early points but a determined Bulls defence held firm and denied their advances. Rawsthorne would eventually slide over the line in the 12th minute after the pace of Ricky Leutele drew the Bradford defence to the left hand side and opened a gap on the right that his side took full advantage of.
Rawsthorne would have his second shortly after thanks to some quick hands from Josh McCrone and Chase Stanley that gave him a clean look at the try-line. Gareth O’Brien sailed his second conversion attempt wide in the windy conditions and the Wolfpack lead sat at eight.
An error from Bradford exiting their defence in the 25th minute handed the Wolfpack possession on the ten metre line and Adam Sidlow was the beneficiary two minutes later when he charged over the line next to the uprights. O’Brien had a much better look at the extra two points and slotted it with ease to stretch the lead out to 14.
It was a ball handling error from the Wolfpack that would in turn lead to Bradford’s first four-pointer of the day in the 33rd minute. The turnover handed the Bulls their best field position of the half and Ross Peltier punished the mistake with a rampaging run under pressure to reduce the margin to eight.
Within the blink of an eye the Bulls were over again, this time through Rowan Milnes, who made the most of a line break and precision pass from Sam Hallas. The half-time siren would sound with the margin at just two points, leaving the crowd on their edge of their seats in anticipation of a huge forty minutes left to play out.
Bradford’s defence was impenetrable in the early stages of the second half, with the Wolfpack trying relentlessly to break it down without success. It took some magic from Ricky Leutele and the returning Liam Kay on the left wing to finally find their way over the line in the 56th minute. A break from Leutele and a well timed return pass from Kay opened up space to give the Wolfpack some breathing room and an eight point lead.
The right wing would hold the rewards for the Wolfpack in the 63rd minute, as Chase Stanley collected his first points of the day after shrugging off pressure from the Bulls defence. O’Brien would add the extras and suddenly the Wolfpack were the owners of a 14 point margin. O’Brien would then score his own right under the crossbar on the back of a forty metre charge from Darcy Lussick, extending the now comfortable lead.
Dalton Grant found his way over the line for Bradford in the 71st minute, placing the ball down beside the right corner flag under heavy scrutiny from the Wolfpack defence.
Liam Kay would answer with his first try of 2019 in the dying seconds of the contest. It was reward for effort in his return from injury and gave the crowd one last reason to get on their feet as he flew through the air to pounce on a kick that sliced through the Bradford defence. The try ticked the scoreboard over to 36-16 in the Wolfpack’s favour and that is where it would stay.
The Wolfpack now head back across the Atlantic to the UK in preparation for a Summer Bash clash in Blackpool, where a strong Toulouse outfit awaits them. The French side got the better of the Wolfpack earlier in the season on their home turf and the encounter will be crucial in the race for top spot come season’s end.
12’ Try Wolfpack: Rawsthorne 4-0
20’ Try Wolfpack: Rawsthorne 8-0
27’ Try Wolfpack: Sidlow. Conversion: O’Brien, 14-0
33’ Try Bulls: Peltier. Conversion: Minchella 14-6
36’ Try Bulls: Milnes. Conversion: Minchella 14-12
Half Time: 14 – 12
56’ Try Wolfpack: Leutele. Conversion: O’Brien 20-12
63’ Try Wolfpack: Stanley. Conversion: O’Brien 26-12
66’ Try Wolfpack: O’Brien. Conversion: O’Brien 32-12
71’ Try Bulls: Grant 32-16
80’ Try Wolfpack: Kay 36-16
Full Time: 36 – 16
Toronto Wolfpack Team
1 Gaz O’Brien
3 Chase Stanley
4 Ricky Leutele
5 Liam Kay
6 Joe Mellor
7 Josh McCrone
8 Adam Sidlow
9 Bob Beswick
10 Ashton Sims
11 Andrew Dixon
12 Bodene Thompson
13 Jon Wilkin
14 Andy Ackers
15 Darcy Lussick
16 Tom Olbison
21 Anthony Mullally
24 Nicholas Rawsthorne