|Wigan Warriors ended Bradford Bulls' eight-game winning run with a superb
26-12 defeat of the Super League leaders at The JJB Stadium on Monday evening.
The Warriors are now unbeaten in their four games under Mike Gregory, and
thoroughly deserved to close the gap on second placed Leeds to three points
following an impressive performance.
The were brilliantly led by captain Andy Farrell, and took a 20-0 lead after
56 minutes, showing excellent defence and some great variety in attack.
The first half began at a relentless pace, with Brian Carney having to tap
dead a Paul Deacon grubber before the first of four first half decisions for
video referee Gerry Kershaw saw Terry Newton denied the opening score.
The Wigan hooker collected his own kick, which had bounced off Tevita
Vaikona's chest, but David Hodgson was ruled to have tackled the Tongan in
Shontayne Hape saw an effort chalked off at the other end when he was only
able to ground the ball on Brian Carney's leg, after a superb steal from Stuart
Reardon on Hodgson gave them the field position.
Reardon, Rob Parker and James Lowes combined to push Newton back as he looked
to power in at the other end, and the Warriors' pressure finally paid on 23
minutes for the opening points.
Vaikona was unable to collect a Luke Robinson bomb, and the ball bounced up
off Brett Dallas' leg for the Australian winger to collect and dive over.
The Bulls were denied for a second time soon afterwards, Martin Aspinwall
just managing to kick Lowes' grubber dead before Daniel Gartner grounded.
Hodgson and Radlinski combined to stop Jamie Peacock at the corner as the
Bulls continued to be thwarted by Wigan's excellent defence.
And the Warriors further extended their lead going into the break, when
Radlinski marked his comeback from three months out with a wrist injury by
strolling through unchallenged to collect Robinson's fine reverse kick and
Farrell's goal gave them a 10-0 lead at the break, and they withstood more
Bulls pressure at the start of the second half before edging away with two quick
A forward pass from Lowes to Lee Radford gave Wigan possession, and Farrell
fed Aspinwall from the scrum for the young centre to step across the defensive
line on a diagonal run to the corner, touching down in Reardon's last-ditch
And the efforts of Reardon and Parker to hold up Newton over the line on 52
minutes went unrewarded when Farrell's bullet pass allowed Brian Carney to dive
in at the corner, the touchline conversion putting the Warriors 20-0 to the
Bradford's response was immediate, with Lowes' short reverse pass sending Joe
Vagana charging over from close range, Deacon goaling.
But when Radford and Hape allowed the restart to bounce into touch, Wigan
used the possession for Farrell to hand off Lowes and cross for their fifth try
and create a 24-6 lead.
Lee Gilmour, who moved out to the wing when Lesley Vainikolo limped off,
denied Carney a second at the corner, tackling the Irishman into touch.
And Bradford moved to within 12 points of their hosts with a quarter of an
hour remaining, when Peacock's offload allowed Lowes to free Scott Naylor, and
Vaikona added the finishing touch, rounding Radlinski before touching down,
Aspinwall continued a fine game by breaking clear from inside his own half
soon afterwards to relieve the pressure, although the similarly impressive
Reardon managed to tackle him at the second attempt.
Farrell hooked an attempted drop goal wide as he looked to edge Wigan further
away, but was on target with a penalty with three minutes to go, after Stuart
Fielden's swinging arm on him, to seal the win.
"The way they played was sensational and it was a team effort, it has been
since Denis (Betts) and I took over," said Warriors coach Mike Gregory.
"I couldn't ask for more than I got today, it wasn't perfect but this team
can get better. Don't underestimate us yet!
"They were awesome, we always knew that Bradford would come back at us, but
we were strong and defensively we did a professional job. I thought we were
smart with the way we played and Andy Farrell was outstanding."
Bulls coach Brian Noble said: "They were great, and the best team on the day.
"I thought we lacked a bit of composure at their end of the field and we
didn't quite execute, but full credit to Wigan, they played with a lot of
"We've got to regroup and kick on from this, there was a lot of effort
individually, but we just need to mould it into a team."