Bradford 14 Rochdale 22: Bulls punished for errors as visitors earn rare Odsal win

Bradford player Leon Pryce breaks through the Rochdale defence.   Picture by Simon Hulme
Bradford player Leon Pryce breaks through the Rochdale defence. Picture by Simon Hulme
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Bradford Bulls failed to break their season’s duck and remain on minus 12 points after a 22-14 defeat in their opening home match in the Championship against newly-promoted Rochdale.

An error-strewn Bulls, barely three weeks after being reformed following liquidation and suffering the subsequent RFL points deduction, failed to master snowy conditions as the in-form Hornets were able to move on from their 46-0 destruction of Dewsbury the previous week.

It was the Lancastrians’ first victory over Bradford for 26 
years and their first at Odsal since 1971.

The Bulls, who lost 54-24 at Championship title favourites Hull KR in the opening round, made the ideal start and went ahead after only three minutes when, helped forward by successive penalties, full-back Oscar Thomas pounced on a well-weighted grubber by Leeds loanee Jordan Lilley.

Thomas surprisingly missed the conversion and the visitors bounced back through former Halifax player Miles Greenwood who darted onto a Lewis Palfrey pass to score.

Palfrey added the extras then edged the Hornets further in front with a penalty.

The sleet relented but handling errors in the wet and bitter cold dictated a poor completion rate with the Bulls the biggest offenders.

However the hosts regained the lead when James Bentley ran onto a Thomas stab in goal and this time the Bulls full-back made no mistake with the subsequent kick, then added a penalty to earn his side a 12-8 half time lead.

Rochdale’s Jo Taira was sin-binned for a late tackle and Thomas extended the lead with another goal after the break before Hornets bounced back with two decisive tries in five minutes – both from former Bradford players.

Powerful prop Samir Tahraoui, who also appeared for Keighley last year, took a clutch of Bulls defenders across the whitewash with him to score, then Danny Bridge who spent a while on loan at Odsal in 2014, dived over from a Danny Yates pass.

Palfrey only managed one conversion but made amends with a penalty shortly afterwards.

Yates missed an attempted drop goal but Palfrey then sealed the Hormets’ second consecutive win with another, last minute, penalty.

Bradford Bulls: Thomas, Ryan, Mendeika, Oakjes, Macani, Pryce, Lilley, Kirk, Lumb, Magrin, Roche, Bentley, Wilkinson. Substitutes: Peltier, Hallas, Jordan-Roberts, Oledzki.

Rochdale Hornets: Greenwood, Riley, Ecclestone, Galbraith, Massam, Palfry, Yates, Tahrahoui, Moores, Bennion, Bridge, Crowley, Middlehurst. Substitutes: Maneely, Taira, Hadden, Case.

Referee: J Roberts (Leeds).