Bradford punished for missed chances as Broncos progress

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Michael Witt provided the inspiration as London Broncos moved into the last eight of the Challenge Cup by beating Bradford Bulls at the Stoop.

Witt claimed a try, four conversions and a drop-goal as the Broncos claimed a quarter-final spot for the second consecutive season.

London coach Tony Rea elected to shake up his backline for the clash, with Chris Melling appearing on the wing while David Howell, out since week one with a broken arm, returned at centre.

For Bradford, John Bateman took his place among the replacements having overcome a groin injury.

Having triumphed 46-20 on the road at the Broncos in Super League a mere month ago, the Bulls entered the game in confident mood.

And it was the visitors who threatened first, Elliot Kear just held up in the corner by the combined efforts of Dan Sarginson and Kieran Dixon.

A Bradford score was not long in coming though, with Jarrod Sammut, who ran in four tries when the sides last met, scooping up a loose pass to skip over at the posts.

London, who had won their previous two home games, should have levelled things up on 10 minutes, only for Shane Grady to spill the ball as he looked to crash over.

But the Broncos did strike on 13 minutes, Matt Cook taking a short pass from Craig Gower to muscle over. The game was proving a testy affair, with plenty of heavy hits from both sides.

And it was also proving a very even contest, with the action swiftly moving from end to end.

London took the lead on 24 minutes thanks to some magic from Dixon, the winger evading the clutches of would-be tacklers to romp home from inside his own half.

Suddenly it was the Broncos asking all the questions, with the men from the capital moving two scores ahead before the break when Scott Wheeldon bulldozed his way over from close range.

The first score after the break looked crucial and it really should have gone to the visitors when Sammut broke clear, only for Luke Gale to delay what would have been a try-scoring pass and the chance was lost.

Adrian Purtell then had a ‘try’ chalked off for a knock on as Bradford continued to press without reward.

London were rocking, but handling errors and poor decision-making were stopping the Bulls from closing the 12-point deficit.

The Broncos were coughing up possession themselves with regularity, leading to a frenetic, error-strewn first 20 minutes of the second half.

The Londoners did look to nudge even further ahead on a rare foray forward on 63 minutes, only for Witt to see his drop-goal attempt drift just wide.

But Witt made up for that moments later, bundling over after Gower’s grubber through had eluded the Bradford defence.

Bradford were far from finished though, Nick Scruton barging over on 71 minutes, only for Witt to strike a drop goal. Kear did cross for a late Bulls score in the corner in the dying seconds but it was mere consolation.

London Broncos: Robertson, Melling, Howell, Sarginson, Dixon, Witt, Gower, Kaufusi, Lee, Krasniqi, Grady, Bailey, Cook. Substitutes: Dorn, Bryant, Fisher, Wheeldon.

Bradford Bulls: Kearney, Kear, Blythe, Lulia, Purtell, Sammut, Gale, Scruton, L’Estrange, Walker, Addy, Whitehead, Donaldson. Substitutes: Diskin, Bateman, Evans, Sidlow.

Referee: J Child (England)

Bradford are set to miss out on a six-figure cash injection after local businesswoman Jay Willey officially ended her association with the Super League club, citing “irrevocable differences” with the club’s directors.

The 41-year-old, who runs her own cosmetics firm, had planned to invest in the Bulls and vowed to bring a touch of glitz and glamour to Super League in return for a significant shareholding.

However, in a statement Willey said: “I am sad to be announcing my official withdrawal of all involvement with the Bradford Bulls. My reasons for this are a number of irrevocable differences between the board and I which has left me with no other course of action.”