THERE WAS no disguising John Kear’s delight after he masterminded another famous Challenge Cup upset.
Kear, winner of the competition as head coach of Sheffield Eagles in 1998 and Hull seven years later, saw his second-tier Bradford Bulls side storm into the quarter-finals by stunning struggling Super League neighbours Leeds Rhinos 24-22 at Odsal.
It was Bradford’s best result since being relegated from the top-flight five years ago and Kear handed all the credit to his players.
“I am delighted with the squad’s efforts,” he said.
“The players who weren’t selected were all here supporting the playing group and I thought the playing group were magnificent.
“Half of that squad are part-time and all of them were in Toronto seven days ago. We’ve travelled back, tried to rest and recover and then prepare as best we can and they have made it a very, very special day indeed.”
Half of that squad are part-time and all of them were in Toronto seven days ago. We’ve travelled back, tried to rest and recover and then prepare as best we can and they have made it a very, very special day indeed.John Kear
Kear added: “I am really pleased for the group. They are a good team, a young team and a locally-based team and they showed what it meant to them.
“When they were under the cosh, somehow they found something extra and they pulled off that try-saving tackle or dived on that loose ball, or whatever.
“They were really, really good and I am delighted for them and the owner who has invested in this and we are progressing in a sustainable manner.
“And I am really chuffed for the fans because they’ve had thin and thin times recently.”
Leeds have lost 11 of their 16 competitive games this year and interim-coach Richard Agar, standing in after Dave Furner was sacked a week earlier, felt the Cup humiliation was “as bad as it gets”.
He said: “We probably got what we deserved.
“Turning the ball over on last plays without asking too many questions and competing on last plays is just criminal and not up to standard.
“We are in a really critical position, there’s no shying away from the fact we’ve got to roll our sleeves up and dig in and try and fix up some of the mistakes and poor discipline and poor efforts we’ve seen in defence.”