Crusaders 44-20 Bradford Bulls

Reporter:

Tom Norris

Brian Noble will be more than happy to play Bradford Bulls three times a year if their last two meetings have anything to go by.

The home side were able to build on an excellent 19-0 Magic Weekend triumph over Steve McNamara's men with a convincing display at The Racecourse, ending a run of four defeats.

Indeed the last time Crusaders won a game was against Bradford in Scotland on May 1 and they are quickly becoming their favourite opponents.

Shorn of the flare of Jarrod Sammut and the guile of Michael Witt, Noble's squad produced a determined and gritty 80 minutes.

It was a chance for unsung heroes such as Rhys Hanbury, Peter Lupton, Weller Hauraki, Mark Bryant, and Ryan O'Hara to show what they are capable of, and they all delivered in some style.

Rocky Trimarchi added to Crusaders injury woes by withdrawing from the warm-up with a hamstring problem, but Noble's men were quickest out of the traps.

In only their second set and with just three minutes on the clock the home side scored their first try of the afternoon, Hauraki and Martin linking superbly to allow Gareth Thomas to go over unchallenged.

Schifcofske, replacing the unavailable Witt on kicking duty, duly added the extras.
Almost immediately Crusaders threatened to add to their early score, but Hanbury's bomb eluded the outstretched hand of Nick Youngquest.

The momentum was definitely with Crusaders as Bradford were penalised for holding on, prompting cries of injustice from the away following.

They were to be stunned into silence shortly afterwards however, Bryant finding Lupton, who played the ball to Hanbury, the half-back flicking the ball to Hauraki and he laid in Mellars to crash over for a superbly worked try.

Schifcofske kept his calm to slot over the additional two points to leave Bradford staring at a repeat of the Magic Weekend.

A relentless wave of Crusaders attacks were knocking on the Bradford door and after some stubborn resistance it caved in for a third time.

It was the quartet of Lupton, Bryant, Hanbury, and Hauraki who combined once more, the latter capitalising on some barnstorming running from his colleagues to dot down. Schifcofske making it three from three with the conversion.

It was nigh on impossible for Crusaders to maintain their performance levels and Bradford fought a way back into the contest.

Chris Nero was on hand to win a penalty for his side before getting on the end of the move to cross over.

Buoyed by their score Bradford grabbed another try through Dave Halley over with Sykes adding the extras.

Luke Dyer replaced the injured Thomas prior to the interval, but Crusaders had the final say of the half Schifcofske sending a penalty through posts

A mistake from Hauraki handed Bulls the ball, Kopczak made ground before the recycled ball found Sykes and thenMichael Worryingly, who crashed over. Sykes completing the six points.

Bradford were within a converted score of the lead after the try Worrincy, Youngquest coming to Crusaders’ rescue, shepherding Rikki Sheriffe into touch.

Youngquest's tackle was to prove a key point as Crusaders went straight up the other end to score, Martin using Dyer as a decoy before burrowing over.

A lull in proceedings was brought to an end by a fierce Hanbury challenge, the 24-year-old pole axing Wayne Godwin as Bradford were denied time and time again by determined Crusaders’ defence.

Even when Bradford appeared to have got a try it was ruled out by the officials as Mellars was deemed to have a first faint touches before his opponent.

Hanbury then bobbed and weaved his way through a static away defence before unloading Hauraki, the second-row scoring his second try of the game.

Schifcofske did the rest with the conversion, leaving Bradford with a mountain to climb during the remaining 13 minutes.

That mountain was added to as Youngquest added his name to the scoresheet, Hanbury collected Wardle's dropped ball before racing 40 metres and playing in the wing, who finished off the move.

Schifcofske again making no mistake with the two points.

Crusaders were now carving their visitors open with ease and a brilliant move down the right touchline allowed Lincoln Withers to score.

Withers started the move with a kick to Martin, he chipped the ball to Dyer before finding the half-back inside.

Schifcofske maintained his 100 per cent record for the game with another successful kick.

There was only time left for Bradford to have the final say, Chan losing the ball and Elliot Whitehead saw an opportunity to cross over. Sykes ending his game with another conversion miss.

All that was left for Crusaders to do was to play down the clock.

See full story in the Leader

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