Bradford Bulls coach James Lowes said his team’s stunning victory over Wigan was no less than his squad deserved after a tough week in training.
Tries from Danny Williams, Joe Arundel and Matty Blythe ensured Bradford claimed their first victory since the beginning of June, with a brace from Dom Manfredi only scant consolation for Shaun Wane’s visitors.
The two points are almost academic for the Bulls, who were relegated after defeat at Huddersfield last time out, but Wigan’s fifth defeat in West Yorkshire this season could prove costly in the race for top spot, as they now trail leaders St Helens by four points.
“I’m not delighted for myself – I’m delighted for the boys,” said Lowes. “They’ve worked extremely hard since I’ve been at the club and I’m overjoyed for them. It’s not about me, because some of the stuff we’ve done in training paid off in a big way today.
“Defensively they worked so hard for each other, and that’s a lot to do with what we do in training.”
Early on, a smart pass from Matty Bowen put winger Manfredi away and he was simply too quick for the scrambling Bulls defence as he went over in the corner to break the deadlock.
From then on though, the rest of the first 40 minutes was dominated by the Bulls.
Despite losing full-back Brett Kearney to injury, they nudged in front when a slick passing move freed winger Williams, who scored his first try in Bradford colours. Luke Gale’s conversion edged Bradford into the lead.
Then, from a routine scrum, Adam O’Brien out-thought and outpaced the Warriors defence, before providing an outstanding off-load for Arundel, who flew in under the posts to make it 12-4 at the interval.
Wigan fans could have been forgiven for starting to think this would not be their day. After Bradford coughed up possession in their own half early in the second period, Charnley found himself in acres of space, with a try seeming like a certainty. However, Lee Gaskell produced an incredible tackle that not only denied the score, but forced the England international to lose possession, too.
Bradford were starting to look like a side hanging on for dear life, but that all changed 20 minutes from time. Another penalty conceded by Wigan, gave the Bulls a chance to strike, and they obliged when Blythe finished excellently in the corner.
With time rapidly running out, the Warriors needed a quick response and six minutes later, all their pressure finally told when Manfredi squeezed in.
Smith was unable to add the extras, though, to leave Wigan eight points behind. That is the way if finished as the Bulls hung on for an impressive win.
Bradford Bulls: Kearney, Kear, Henry, Arundel, Williams, Gaskell, Gale, Manuokafoa, O’Brien, Fakir, Olbison, Pitts, Donaldson. Substitutes: Sidlow, Mellor, Blythe, Addy.
Wigan Warriors: Bowen, Charnley, Goulding, Sarginson, Manfredi, Williams, Smith, Flower, S. Powell, Crosby, L. Farrell, Bateman, O’Loughlin. Substitutes: Taylor, Hughes, Clubb, Sutton.
Referee: R Hicks (RFL).