Bradford set aside troubles and pull off fine victory over Wigan

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The administrator in charge of crisis-torn Bradford Bulls last night admitted he may have to start “banging down a few doors” to get a buyer.

But he might find interest increased following this stunning victory over the Super League leaders.

Brendan Guilfoyle concedes the future of the ailing Super League club is still very much in doubt with less than a week to save it from liquidation.

“I have nothing to report, which is disappointing,” he said.

“I think next week I’m going to have to start banging down a few doors to try to convince people that the Bulls are a good proposition.”

Jack Tordoff, the boss of Bradford-based motor group JCT 600 and a long-time sponsor of the club, has been mentioned as a possible purchaser.

However, the Yorkshire Post understands the multi-millionaire feels he is now too old to take full charge of the four-times Super League champions although he could offer further sponsorship.

Bradford went into administration after failing to find the £1.2m they say is needed to see them through to the end of the season and they have no money to pay the players and staff their wages for July.

That puts their next scheduled Super League home game against London Broncos tomorrow week in jeopardy, although one short-term solution might be for the Rugby Football League to advance the club money from central funds.

The RFL are prevented by law from funding the wages of a club’s players but chief operating officer Ralph Rimmer and director of standards and licensing Blake Solly met the Bradford squad and coach Mick Potter on Thursday to offer practical support.

The governing body are organising, through their player welfare financial partners Yorkshire Bank, a series of workshops and one-to-one interview sessions next week when players can receive confidential financial advice on how to deal with investments, mortgages and debt issues raised by the uncertainty.

The RFL have also put the Bradford players in touch with Sporting Chance, who have made their counselling service available to anyone whose health is suffering due to the stress and anxiety caused by the problems at the club.

Bradford’s players demonstrated the never-say-die qualities the club will need to survive as they pulled off a stunning victory in front of a shell-shocked crowd of 19,628 at the DW Stadium.

The Warriors had hooker Michael McIlorum sent off on 55 minutes for punching and the visitors scored the all-important try with a man advantage against a side playing their second game in five days.

Whether or not this turns out to be their last match, it will be a triumph that will live long in the memory.

Former Wigan winger Karl Pryce scored two of the Bulls’ five tries to take the gloss off a tryscoring debut by Warriors’ 20-year-old full-back Jack Murphy, who got his chance when Sam Tomkins was ruled out with a “dead leg”.

Wigan took the lead after just three minutes, with Gareth Hock offloading from the tackle to free up centre George Carmont and winger Anthony Gelling finished off the slick move.

The Bulls were down to 12 men when Pryce was sin-binned for holding down Darrell Goulding to prevent a quick play-the-ball and the home side extended their lead in his absence through Murphy.

The youngster burst past Brett Kearney on halfway and eluded Shaun Ainscough to score a 50-metre try.

Josh Charnley’s goal made it 10-0 after 15 minutes and the Warriors had chances to establish a bigger lead, with loose forward Liam Farrell twice producing clean breaks which came to nothing.

The Bulls were in no mood to roll over, though, and took the lead with two tries in 10 minutes.

Scrum-half Luke Gale combined superbly with Kearney and Jarrod Sammut to send Pryce in for his eighth try of the season before centre Keith Lulia broke free down the left wing and got the supporting Kearney over.

Gale kicked both conversions to make it 12-10 and, although Sean O’Loughlin’s short pass close to the line enabled back row Ben Flower to score his first try for Wigan on his first appearance since March, the Yorkshire club regained the lead on the stroke of half-time.

Their determination to keep the ball alive had the Wigan defence backpedalling and, after Michael Platt had switched the point of attack, prop Tom Burgess tore down the middle before working the ball out wide for Lulia to finish off a glorious move.

The teams had to cope with steady drizzle at the start of the second half but Wigan forced two goal-line drop-outs and the pressure paid off on 51 minutes when replacement prop Dom Crosby went through a gap in the Bradford defence to register his first Super League try.

Charnley’s third goal made it 22-18 but the Warriors were reduced to 12 men for the last 25 minutes when McIlorum was sent off for swinging a punch at Elima.

That gave the Bulls all the encouragement they needed and they drew level for the third time with 10 minutes to go when second row Elliott Whitehead jinked his way over for their fourth try.

Gale maintained his composure to land his fourth goal to nudge his side back in front and, although Bradford lost Sammut with a leg injury, they clinched victory when Charnley made a mess of Gale’s crossfield kick to present Pryce with his second try.

Wigan Warriors: Murphy, Charnley, Goulding, Carmont, Gelling, O’Loughlin, Finch, Lauaki, McIlorum, Mossop, Lloyd, Hock, Farrell. Substitutes: L Tomkins, Hughes, Crosby, Flower.

Bradford Bulls: Kearney, Ainscough, Platt, Lulia, Pryce, Sammut, Gale, Elima, L’Estrange, Manuokafoa, Bateman, Whitehead, Langley. Substitutes: Burgess, C Walker, O’Brien, Olbison.

Referee: Tim Roby (RFL).