Bradford Bulls 24 Salford 38: Bulls unwitting victims as Harris opens Salford account

Rangi Chase
Rangi Chase
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Iestyn Harris was able to celebrate victory in his opening match in charge of Salford as the Red Devils ran in seven tries in a 38-24 success at bottom team Bradford.

Head coach Harris, a former Bradford player, moved from assistant at Wigan to take over the reigns at the Barton-based club from Brian Noble a week beforehand and watched on as his new charges picked up only their second win in six games.

It was the Bulls fifth successive defeat and leaves them on minus two points – two adrift of London Broncos at the foot of the table – and with an unenviable run of fixtures against Leeds, Wigan, Warrington and St Helens looming in the next month.

The Red Devils were briefly behind but always looked the more likely side and forged a 16-point lead by the interval.

Bradford responded quickly with a try after the break but failed to build on their new-found momentum and, as the sides traded scores – three apiece during the second half – the Red Devils held on for the victory.

Salford, adding Wigan loanee Logan Tomkins and Matty Ashurst to the squad that squeezed past Hull in the Cup the previous week, struck first.

Rangi Chase sent Gareth Hock careering through a gap on the 40-metre line and Jake Mullaney was up in support to score, although the full-back failed to convert his own try.

The Bulls always struggled to make yards as easily as the visitors. But Luke Gale’s teasing kicks and persistence worked them back into contention and, on the back of a penalty for holding down, Adrian Purtell charged over beside the posts and Jamie Foster edged Bradford ahead with the conversion.

Salford immediately pressed for a response, forcing a goal line drop out and then Mullaney was held up over the line.

The pressure finally told as hooker Tommy Lee put Junior Sa’u in from close range and Mullaney this time had no trouble adding the goal.

Lee and Chase combined to put Tim Smith in just after the half hour before the Bulls handed their opponents a gift of a fourth try. A looping Chase kick in-goal was dithered over by the Bulls defence and Ashurst, with his first touch, swooped to touchdown and ensure the Red Devils went in 22-6 ahead at half-time.

The Bulls knew they needed to score first after the break and, within three minutes, did as Adam O’Brien’s tenacity opened a path for Adam Sidlow to score against his former club.

Bulls’ over-eagerness saw them cough up possession deep in their own half and a try from Tony Puletua restored Salford’s advantage. Kear scored a well deserved try to give the hosts late hope. But a weaving solo effort from Chase steadied any nerves the visitors might have had and, with Mullaney adding five goals in total the match was won. Adam Henry and Francis Meli traded late scores.

Bradford: Kearney, Kear, Henry, Purtell, Foster, Gaskell, Gale, Manuokafoa, Diskin, Walker, Ferguson, Blythe, Donaldson. Replacements: Fakir, Mullally, Sidlow, O’Brien.

Salford: Mullaney, Johnson, Gleeson, Sa’u, Meli, Chase, Smith, Morley, Lee, Tasi, Hansen, Hock, Puletua. Replacements: Ashurst, J. Walne, Tomkins, McPherson.

Referee: Phil Bentham (RFL)