Bradford Bulls Match Report
Record attendance for Bears game at the Butts.
COVENTRY BEARS 12 BRADFORD BULLS 62
Mike Hyde, Butts Park Arena, Saturday
The band was playing, the craft beer was on tap, and the sun was shining brightly as a record crowd of 1,465 gathered to see the first visit of Bradford Bulls to Coventry’s Butts Park Arena.
The former World Champions eventually emerged as comfortable winners, but only after Coventry Bears took and held a surprise lead for a quarter of the match.
To the cheers and astonishment of the home fans, some of whom were first time attenders, a strong drive by Ashley Bateman paved the way for an offload to Kam Pearce-Paul who put the home side in front after just four minutes. Ben Stead added two extra points.
Bradford were soon attacking again, but clumsy handling in the sun and dust thwarted them on more occasions than even the Bears strong tackling. But then with sixteen minutes gone, Bulls’ Dane Chisholm cut through to put Ethan Ryan over the line.
Chisholm’s missed conversion meant that the home side still had the lead. The Bears fans still could not believe what was happening, but were grounded enough to just savour that twenty five minutes when their team were actually beating the erstwhile legends of Super League.
The Bulls dominance in possession eventually paid off as George Milton wove his way through the defensive line. Elliott Minchella was the next over and Chisholm made no mistake with these conversions putting the score at 6-16. Coventry continued to attack until the half time hooter with Dan Gover coming close to narrowing the margin, but just missing out.
John Kear, the Bulls characterful coach would not be happy, and afterwards we found out he had given his side a ‘spraying’ in the dressing room!!!
And so, the Bulls came out a different team in the second half.
Within a minute of the restart, Ross Peltier was over the line, but the conversion failed. Then just two minutes later, a good run by Halafihi put Laithwaite in a great position to pierce the home defence. And two minutes after that, Bradford’s man of the match Minchella was over for another try. With Chisolm getting the last two kicks, the score was now 6-32 and the match surely looked over after that five minute blitz.
However, the Bears were in no mood to curl up and die, as Stead put the ball out to Chris Barratt who was in just the right position to get himself on the scoresheet. Stead’s kick brought the difference to 12-32, but this time it really was to be the end of the contest.
Joe Keyes broke away and sprinted over for a stunning try on 53 minutes, and the difference in fitness was now beginning to show.
After a moment’s hesitation by the Bears defence, Liam Johnson seized the loose ball, and he bagged another try for the Bulls.
Hallas then led another blitz in the final ten minutes, scoring after a searing diagonal run.
Not to be outdone, his Bulls team-mate Minchella added his third of the afternoon. Hallas then added to his tally with a try straight from the kick off taken by the now weary Bears.
So, the Bulls go marching on, as expected.
But this was a great event and superb advertisement for Rugby League in the Midlands sun, and Bears fans, new and old, also went away happy.