Leeds Rhinos: Tries: Mitch Achurch, Brett Delaney, Luke Briscoe. Goals: Hardaker, 1/3.
Bradford Bulls: Tries: Danny Williams, Luke Gale, Lee Gaskell. Goals: Gale, 4/4.
Lee Gaskell grabbed a dramatic late try to help the relegated Bradford Bulls achieve a memorable West Yorkshire derby victory against old rivals and title hopefuls, Leeds Rhinos.
In an error-strewn game, Danny Williams opened the scoring for the Bulls, taking advantage of a Tom Briscoe error to run in the Bulls’ first points, but Mitch Achurch responded to tie the scores at 4-4 heading into the break.
Bradford’s Luke Gale and Leeds’ Brett Delaney then scored a converted try each to bring the scores to 10-10. Gale prodded over a penalty to edge the visitors ahead again only for Luke Briscoe to grab a try for the Rhinos before Gaskell’s late score and Gale’s fourth goal sealed the victory.
For the second consecutive week, Bradford caused a major shock, following on from their stunning victory over Wigan a week ago.
The result means Leeds squandered the chance to go top but remain third, level on points with Wigan and Castleford while they are two points behind leaders St Helens.
Gale created the opening try with a break before finding former Rhinos winger Williams with a kick to the corner after Tom Briscoe failed to gather the ball. Former Penrith Panthers forward Achurch levelled things up for the home side on his return from injury, racing in from 20 metres after good strength and footwork saw him clear of the visiting defence on 14 minutes.
The home side appeared to be in again when Josh Walters raced away after collecting the ball inside his own 20 but Elliot Kear and Adam Sidlow showed great determination to bring Walters down – Sidlow was then sin-binned for preventing a quick play the ball. However, Leeds failed to make the most of their man advantage and were forced to reshuffle after Ben Jones-Bishop left the field with a severe looking leg injury.
Both sides profited from errors in a tight second half.
Firstly, Tom Briscoe spilled a kick, allowing Gale to tap ahead and touch down while Delaney kicked Zak Hardaker’s wayward pass on and dived over the Bulls line from close range.
Gale then opted to go for an extra two points from just in front of the posts to edge Bradford into a slender lead.
Brian McDermott’s below par Rhinos then took the lead for the first and only time through Luke Briscoe’s try with just six minutes remaining, but Bradford had the final say.
Former St Helens half back Gaskell stepped his way through the Leeds defence to the delight of the healthy travelling support.The win is Bradford’s first over Leeds in six attempts and gives the Bulls a real sense of hope heading into next year’s Championship campaign, meanwhile it raises questions for Leeds ahead of their massive Challenge Cup semi final clash with Warrington Wolves on Saturday.
Man of the Match: Luke Gale.