Bulls v. Warriors

Fri, 24 May 2002
Bradford Bulls V Wigan Warriors
Tetley's Super League Round 12

Won 28 - 26

Bradford Bulls: Michael Withers, Tevita Vaikona, Scott Naylor, Brandon Costin, Nathan McAvoy, Robbie Paul, Paul Deacon, Top Banana Taylor, James Lowes, Monkey Mills, Jamie Peacock, Daniel Gartner, Mike Forshaw
Subs: Leon Pryce, King Kong Kilo, Richard Moore, Lee Radford, The Abominable Stakes

Tries: Michael Withers(2), Tevita Vaikona, Scott Naylor, Nathan McAvoy
Goals: Paul Deacon(4)

Wigan Warriors: K Radlinski, B Carney, P Johnson, D Hodgson, B Dallas, A Farrell, A Lam, T O'Connor, T Newton, C Smith, S Wild, S Haughton, D Furner
Subs: R Bibey, H Howard, S O'Loughlin, M Smith.

Tries: Wild, Lam, Dallas, Newton
Goals: Farrell (5)

Paul Deacon secured two points for Bradford Bulls with a last second, 50 metre penalty kick as they defeated Wigan Warriors 28-26 in a titanic Tetley's Rugby Super League encounter on Friday night.

With the scores locked at 26-all and a minute left on the clock, Wigan captain Andrew Farrell was penalised for crossing on the half way line, and Deacon struck a sweet kick which sailed between the points to preserve the Bulls' unbeaten home record in Super League at Valley Parade.

It ended a classic encounter in which the Warriors had gone 20-6 ahead through tries to Stephen Wild, Brett Dallas and Adrian Lam and four Farrell goals, with Michael Withers' try and a Deacon penalty being the Bulls' reply.

Nathan McAvoy collected Deacon's kick to pull four points back before half time, and the reigning champions kicked into gear after the break, with Tevita Vaikona - who signed a new deal before the game - and Scott Naylor touching down, and two goals putting them 22-20 ahead.

Withers' second made the scoreline 26-20 before Terry Newton's try, converted by Farrell, levelled the game before both sides, in an exciting final 15 minutes, missed drop goal attempts before Deacon's dramatic winner.

It brought to an end a magnificent clash and proved the Bulls' champion qualities as they bounced back from a first half display which, by their standards, was disappointing.

Wigan had opened the scoring in the 13th minute through Stephen Wild, the second rower being put through a gap by fellow youngster Sean O'Loughlin and rounding Withers on a 50-yard streak to the line, Farrell creating a 6-0 advantage.

O'Loughlin had been on the pitch for only minutes after replacing Simon Haughton, whose superb tackle to send Robbie Paul into touch in the corner ended with him colliding with a hoarding, needing stitches in a head wound and missing the rest of the game with concussion.

Wigan, though, showed little effect from the loss, with Farrell charging through one gap before Kris Radlinski's offload was collected by Withers.

Bradford's best chance early on came when Brandon Costin raced towards the corner and threw a ball inside - but the excellent O'Loughlin was in the right place to take possession.

A crunching tackle from Brett Dallas saw Scott Naylor spill a Robbie Paul pass, and Wigan used the territory to score their second try, Lam putting Johnson awat on the right and supporting to touch down under the posts to leave an easy goal.

After 24 minutes, the Bulls finally got off the mark, when Withers looped around the back to take a Deacon pass and dummy his way over, the scrum half missing with the conversion but adding a penalty after Ricky Bibey's interference on James Lowes.

On 33 minutes, a wayward Robbie Paul pass was gobbled up by Brett Dallas, and the Australian speedster shot 60 yards to touch down under the posts, Farrell converting and then tagging on a further two points from half way after King Kong Kilo was offside from the restart.

At 20-6 with 35 minutes on the clock, the Bulls' proud home record in Super League was in danger of being shattered by a team who, after their defeat to Leeds a week ago, were read the riot act by coach Stuart Raper.

But Bradford gained a much-needed boost going into the break when Deacon launched a cross-field bomb, and Nathan McAvoy out-jumped Brian Carney to collect and score to cut the gap to 20-10.

Tevita Vaikona had signed a three-year extension to his Bulls contract before the game, and he grabbed the first score of the second period after flowing hands from Paul, Naylor, Daniel Gartner and Withers enabled him to touch down for the tenth time this season, Deacon converting.

James Lowes then thought that he had dived over to level the game on 50 minutes, but the video referee showed that the veteran hooker had lost the ball in the process of grounding, although credit again goes to O'Loughlin for his tackle.

However, their pressure paid once again when another Deacon kick was collected by Vaikona, who allowed Jamie Peacock to charge for the corner and pass inside for Naylor to touch down, Deacon putting them ahead for the first time at 22-20.

Deacon then kicked a 40-20 before, from the base of the scrum, Paul, Withers, Costin and McAvoy all handled and Withers supported to claim his second try of the match - the ten minute purple patch creating 16 points and a 26-20 lead.

Wigan were shell-shocked but Farrell, starting at stand off in the absence of Julian O'Neill, was halted short before they levelled matters, Lam bursting through and producing a clever flick pass for hard working Terry Newton to dive over.

The pressure on Farrell's face as he lined up the conversion told its own tale, but the Great Britain captain held his nerve to tie the score and set up a frantic final 15 minutes.

Farrell himself missed a penalty attempt, while both Deacon and Lam missed drop goals and Naylor and Withers knocked on after good work from Lowes.

But a penalty against Farrell for crossing, when Newton's dummy run - despite appearing to touch no Bulls defenders - was spotted by referee Russell Smith, gave Deacon the chance to snatch the points, and the Wigan-born scrum half hit arguably the sweetest goal of his career to clinch the win.