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HULL FC 24-18 BRADFORD BULLS
By | 30/03/2012
A tense night at the KC Stadium finished with a fifth straight win for Hull FC as the Black and Whites edged out a spirited Bradford 24-18.
The Bulls entered the game in the midst of a financial crisis this week, but there was little sign of that affecting the players as they largely dominated a young Hull pack in a match that was played mostly in the Hull half.
The Black and Whites did look threatening when in possession, however, with a brace of tries for Richard Horne and a score for the in-form Willie Manu matching Bradford tries from Keith Lulia, Karl Pryce and John Bateman as the game entered the final 10 minutes locked at 18 points apiece.
Tom Briscoe then flew in at the corner to make the scores 22-18 with nine minutes left on the clock, as Danny Tickle missed a difficult touchline conversion.
The second rower did then extend the lead by a further two points with three minutes to play, however, as a 40-20 from Jamie Ellis gave Hull the position for Martin Aspinwall to be tackled high.
That penalty proved to be the killer blow in a see-saw encounter and ensured Peter Gentle’s side continued their unbeaten run at home.
In the absence of front line props Mark O’Meley and Sam Moa, Hull coach Peter Gentle handed Super League debuts to youngsters Chris Green and Liam Kent from the bench.
With in-form Australian full back Wade McKinnon also missing with a groin strain, stand-off Richard Horne dropped back with close season signing Jamie Ellis given his first start in the halves since joining from Leigh Centurions, where he was named Championship Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year in 2011.
Former Wigan Warriors prop Eamon O’Carroll was handed his first start for the Black and Whites, while Bradford Bulls arrived missing Ben Jeffries, who failed to recover from a hamstring injury sustained in his side’s loss to Salford at Odsal last week.
Both teams made a steady start to the match before Hull opened the scoring with a Horne try. Taking an offload from captain Andy Lynch, he raced clear from 40 metres before rounding the Bradford full back.
Danny Tickle continued his form with the boot to add the extras, but the Bulls hit back 15 minutes into the game. It was a Hull mistake which gifted them the field position for centre Keith Lulia to step over on the left.
Jarrod Sammut converted before Hull regained the lead again. This time it was Tongan second row Willie Manu who claimed the try, continuing his outstanding run of late to score his fifth try in three games.
It was a very well-worked move which provided the opportunity for Manu to take Brett Seymour’s pass and jink over under the posts, beating three defenders in the process.
Tickle added the extra two points to make the scores 12-6 after an enthralling opening quarter.
That was the way the scores remained at the break, but the last 20 minutes of the first half were far from uneventful with wave after wave of pressure on the Hull line.
With Bradford’s pack beginning to take the ascendency as O’Carroll and Lynch were given a breather on the bench and youngsters Bowden and Green asked to step into the front row, the Bulls dominated possession but were unable to find a way through a resolute defence.
The did manage to get over the line before rightly being called back for obstruction, but otherwise the Black and Whites defended with great spirit and determination as they struggled to get out of their own half.
Winger Will Sharp was particularly impressive in closing down numerous Bradford raids, while Hull were guilty of spilling the ball too frequently when they did earn possession.
However, to their credit, Gentle’s men hung in there bravely and took their six-point lead into the dressing rooms at half time.
That change almost immediately after the break though, Karl Pryce touching down a bouncing ball in the in-goal area after a cross-field kick from Sammut. There appeared to be a knock-on in the build-up, but the try was awarded and Sammut duly converted from out wide.
The try came from a now familiar pattern, Hull penalised by referee Thiery Alibert twice in the build-up as indiscipline continued to cost them.
But once again to the delight of a raucous home crowd, the Black and Whites showed their fighting spirit to repeatedly stay in the game.
With a never-say-die attitude they continued to repel a bigger and more physical Bradford team and earned their reward with 22 minutes left on the clock when Horne bagged his second of the match.
Leading by example with another strong game, he spotted a gap in the Bulls defence and danced over from acting half. Tickle restored Hull’s six-point advantage with his third conversion.
However, Bradford came roaring back once more and levelled the scores with a John Bateman try. It was a stunner from the England Academy captain, too, with more than 15 passes in the build-up before the back rower crossed in the left corner.
Sammut added the difficult conversion to tie it up at 18-18 and with 12 minutes remaining, it was anybody’s game.
Hull made the desicive move to inch themselves ahead once more in their next set. Forcing a Bradford error from the kick-off, the Airlie Birds spread the ball left and centre Jordan Turner sent Tom Briscoe diving in at the corner. The try was scored inches inside the corner flag though and Tickle pulled his conversion just wide to leave Hull leading by the most slender of margins at 22-18.
However, with three minutes left on the clock and a 40/20 from Ellis laying the platform, Tickle stepped up to kick a late penalty from in front of the posts to finally seal a hard-fought but thoroughly deserved win.
Hull FC: Horne, Sharp, Martin, Turner, Briscoe, Ellis, Seymour, O’Carroll, Houghton, Lynch, Manu, Tickle, Aspinwall.
Subs: Whiting, Kent, Green, Bowden.
Tries: Horne (2), Manu, Briscoe
Goals: Tickle (3/4)
Bradford Bulls: Kearney, Pryce, Purtell, Lulia, Crookes, Addy, Sammut, Hargreaves, Diskin, Manuokafoa, Bateman, Whitehead, Langley.
Subs: L’Estrange, Elima, Burgess, Joseph.
Tries: Lulia, Pryce, Bateman
Goals: Sammut (3/3)
Referee: T Alibert