Bradford Bulls travelled to The Shay last night and defeated Halifax Panthers in a brilliant advert for the Championship, although one that had Bulls’ boss Mark Dunning on the edge of his seat.
The game finished 26-22 but there was far more to it than just being a close derby, Bradford looking like they’d easily sealed it with just five minutes to go before conceding a length of the field interception try.
That came from Italy international Jake Maizen and made for an incredibly nervy last few minutes, ones that ultimately the Bulls saw out.
Expect these two sides to be there or thereabouts come the end of the season, and that was something Dunning clearly knew as he discussed the significance of getting one over on the local rival.
“It means everything, a derby is a derby and we all want two points at the end of the day. They were really committed and so were we.
“It’ll mean a lot to the boys, they’ve had to wait all Easter. Everyone else played on Friday whilst we’ve had to wait till Monday night but it’s made it all worth the wait.”
The Bulls went in at the half 20-12 up and Dunning explained that he tried to encourage his side to complete the basics and in turn limit any second-half scoring.
“I said to them at half-time that if nobody else scores in the game then we’d win the game, so just to carry on with the process and stick to it. I thought they did for 35 minutes of the second half but that last five minutes was frantic wasn’t it?”
At 26-14 up the Bulls had territory inside Fax’s 20 and rather than complete their set and kick to the corner they attempted an expansive move out wide.
Italy international Jake Maizen latched onto a tipped pass and ran the length of the field, making it a one score game and an entertaining final five minutes.
Whilst the Panthers couldn’t add another it still showcased the brilliant competition that the Championship is.
Dunning said of the final five minutes: “I can’t repeat on air what I said. It’s a little bit of game smarts that we needed.”