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2nd May 2003: Wigan 8 Bradford 14
Wigan Warriors v Bradford Bulls Tetley's Super League VIII Round 8
Friday 2nd May. Kick Off 8:00pm at JJB Stadium.
CherryandWhite.co.uk Match Report by Bilko

Wigan cruelly denied victory by Bradford

Adrian Lam's missed drop goal proved costly as Wigan lost this one despite a brave effort against the Challenge Cup Winners.

Leon Pryce's 78th minute try won the game for the Bulls but the young Wigan side can hold their heads up high because the referee was certainly a 14th man for the Bulls.

Kris Radlinski, Jamie Ainscough and David Hodgson all returned for this game and new loan signing Nick Graham made his debut at loose forward but Andy Farrell, Brett Dallas, Terry Newton, Mick Cassidy, Stephen Wild, Ricky Bibey and Luke Robinson were all still missing.

Hodgson and Ainscough made an immediate impact combining together with Paul Johnson to score a superb 80 metre try down the wing after just thirty seconds. Despite Danny Tickle's failed conversion it was a perfect start.

After that it was a strange first half. With so much quality on the field, try scoring opportunities were few and far between and it was a real defensive battle. Wigan had been heavily criticised and rightly so for poor defence earlier in the season but they've certainly held their own in the last two matches.

The rainy conditions made it difficult for Bradford to put their game together. Ball retention was almost impossible. The Bulls forwards made plenty of yards but they never looked like scoring. New signing Graham was excellent in defence, but to be fair so was the whole Warriors team.

Wigan added to their lead on 27 minutes. Tickle kicked the penalty to make the score 6-0.

That was the end of the scoring in the first half. The match was as tight as the 6-0 scoreline suggested.

Two minutes after the break Tickle made the score 8-0 with another penalty goal after the Bulls former Warrior Lee Gilmour was penalised for obstruction.

But Bradford soon punished two early second half errors when Leon Pryce scored on 46 minutes. He took Paul Deacon's long pass beating Hodgson to score in the right corner. The normally immaculate Deacon didn't convert so we still led 8-4.

Soon after Deacon tried a penalty kick from 40 yards but missed again, this time hitting the post.

Like the first half both sides handling was suspect in the rain but the one piece of brilliance on the night set up a try for Lesley Vainikolo as Paul Deacon palmed the ball to give the big wingman an unopposed run in. Deacon again failed to convert but Bradford had tied the match up at 8 all after 62 minutes.

Ian Smith called upon video ref David Campbell after James Lowes touched down in the corner but the try was ruled out after he judged that Shontayne Hape had knocked on

The Bulls were now piling on the pressure. They forced several drop outs but Wigan were defending pretty solidly. The visitors were also being helped by referee Ian Smith who awarded them a number of controversial penalties.

Both sides pressed to win the game but it seems Bradford were thinking try whilst we were thinking drop goal.

On 73 minutes Tickle tried an ambitious 50 metre penalty attempt but it just fell short in front of the posts. Sean O'Loughlin and Adrian Lam both attempted drop goals but they were woeful. Lam definetly should have scored his. He had all the time in the world but somehow scuffed it along the floor. In my opinion that miss cost us the game.

It was soon punished. With just two minutes to go James Lowes chipped over rather than going for the drop goal and Leon Pryce came from nowhere to snatch the ball ahead of Radlinski to score under the posts. Deacon converted making the score 8-14 to the visitors.

Wigan won the ball back from the short kick off but for some reason kicked on the first tackle despite a minute being left on the clock. The kick came to nothing and Bradford won. Cruel loss but we could and should have won. Still compared to performances earlier in the season, the last three suggest bright things are ahead. I said before the season began we'll be competing with the top sides at play off time. Well we are competing with them already and will only get better as the year rolls on.

After the game coach Stuart Raper said: "It was a game of two halves. We didn't help ourselves in the second half. We dropped too much ball in our own half and they took advantage."

Team Sheets

Warriors

Bulls

No.
Player

Pos

No.
Player
1 Kris Radlinski Full Back 1 Robbie Paul
5 Brian Carney Wing 2 Tevita Viakona
18 Martin Aspinwall Centre 20 Scott Naylor
14 David Hodgson Centre 4 Shontayne Hape
3 Jamie Ainscough Wing 5 Lesley Vianikolo
15 Sean O'Loughlin Stand Off 3 Leon Pryce
7 Adrian Lam Scrum Half 7 Paul Deacon
8 Terry O'Connor Prop 8 Joe Vagana
17 Mark Smith Hooker 9 James Lowes
10 Craig Smith Prop 11 Daniel Gartner
4 Paul Johnson 2nd Row 12 Jamie Peacock
12 Danny Tickle 2nd Row 18 Lee Radford
28 Nick Graham L.Forward 13 Mike Forshaw
16 Danny Sculthorpe Sub 10 Paul Anderson
22 Shaun Briscoe Sub 14 Lee Gilmour
23 Gareth Hock Sub 27 Rob Parker
25 Kevin Brown Sub 30 Richard Moore
Score Sheet
Wigan Warriors 8-14 Bradford Bulls

Try:
Jamie Ainscough (1)

Tries:
Leon Pryce 2 (46, 77)
Lesley Vianikolo (62)

Goals:
Danny Tickle 2

Goals:
Paul Deacon 1
Match Info

Half Time: 6-0 Wigan
Match Attendance: 10,281
Referee: Ian Smith (Oldham)
Cherry and White.co.uk Star Man: Terry O'Connor

Alternative Match Reports
Leon, Lowes and Les have Bulls singing in the rain - Bradford redamberandblack.com
Bulls snatch late victory - BBC Online
Pryce is right as Bulls battle back - Sky Sports
Bulls snatch dramatic victory - Press Association
Bulls claim crucial victory - superleague.co.uk
Pryce keeps cup hoodoo at bay - The Independent
Pryce gets Bradford out of jail - The Sun
Bulls get the Pryce so right - The Mirror
Pryce’s footballing intelligence brings Bulls the points - The Times
Wigan battle to the end but suffer crucial loss - wiganrl.com
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