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Kingstone Press Championship Round 16 Preview – Bradford Bulls v Doncaster

Bradford will be wanting to carry on their battle for the top spot with a win against bottom side Doncaster, who have a new coaching staff for this match. After Paul Cooke was relieved of his duties, the 2014 Championship 1 Coach of the Year Gary Thornton was appointed as head coach with former Doncaster back-rower Peter Green as his assistant.

Last Time Out

Bradford Bulls made their way down to Edgware to take on a London Broncos side who were reinvigorated after their Summer Bash triumph over Sheffield Eagles. But, it was Bradford’s day in round 15 as they completed the ‘double’ over London with a 36-18 win. London went into a 12-0 lead in the early stages, though, as Tom Gilmore and Jamie Thackray both crossed the chalk. Replies for Bradford came courtesy of Ryan Shaw and Danny Williams whose converted tries levelled matters up to half-time. Three tries in the space of 13 second half minutes gave Bradford a comfortable lead and one they wouldn’t relinquish. Adam Henry, Etu Uaisele and Adam Sidlow all went over to touch down before Thackray completed his brace for the hosts. The last laugh, however, went to Adam O’Brien who sliced through the Broncos defence like a knife through butter.

Doncaster came ever so close to collecting their first win of 2015, as they were defeated 14-6 by Dewsbury Rams at Tetley’s Stadium after having a Matt Groat try disallowed with two minutes left to play. The score was 10-6 to Dewsbury at the time. Scott Hale scored the first try of proceedings on 19 minutes for Dewsbury before Jansin Turgut equalised for the visitors as the teams went into half-time at 6-6. Dale Morton edged the Rams in front once more during the final quarter before the controversy crept in as Groat was cruelly disallowed a try which would have just about sealed the win for Doncaster. But, to the dismay of temporary coach Tony Miller and everybody associated with the Dons, on the next set Dewsbury wrapped up the game with a try through Jason Crookes. Another ‘so near yet so far’ for the South Yorkshire club.

Key Battle

With the Doncaster players looking to make a good first impression in front of coach Thornton, nobody will be more motivated than hooker Kyle Kesik who may go up against live wire Adam O’Brien if the former returns to his normal position after a stint at stand-off against Dewsbury. Kesik has been one of Doncaster’s most consistent performers for a good few years now, and the ex Sheffield Eagles man knows his troops will be in for a tough day at Odsal on Sunday. O’Brien is the Bulls starting hooker and will more than likely find himself in the Championship Team of the Year after this season is over. Keeping O’Brien quiet out of dummy half is always a key objective for teams but there’s so many danger men in Bradford’s side that nobody can be discounted.

Prediction

Bradford won’t have been one of the teams Gary Thornton will have wanted to start his Doncaster tenure against. His side will be trying as hard as ever to nail down a starting spot under a new coaching regime, so Bradford will have to be on guard and not underestimate the Dons. However, the Bulls are a full-time side and are currently on a good run so it’d take a mammoth effort for them to be derailed this week – Bradford by 32

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