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18th October 2003: Bradford 25 Wigan 12
Bradford Bulls v Wigan Warriors Tetley's Super League VIII Grand Final
Saturday 18th October 2003 Kick Off 6:30pm at Old Trafford,
CherryandWhite.co.uk Match Report by Bilko.

Wigan's brave soldiers denied at the final hurdle.

Gutted but proud. - That's how coach Mike Gregory saw Saturdays Grand Final defeat and I can't argue with that.

Wigan ended the season in tears after losing the 2003 Grand Final to Bradford at Old Trafford but they should take heart from what has been a tremendous season.

We have achieved an awful lot during our 36 match campaign this year and that shouldn't be forgotten.

Who'd have thought we'd have reached the Grand Final after winning just two of our first five Super League matches?

Who'd have thought we'd beat St Helens four times out of four?

This has been a great season. We have witnessed the young kids that started the season progress into men! You just have to remember that the vast majority of the side hasn't reach their peak yet!

The bottom line is I can't really look at a player that turned out in the final and say that they played badly! Bradford were just the better team on the day and their extra week's rest showed in the end.

The first ten minutes saw both sides looking to maintain possession and not give anything away. But as the half went on it was Wigan who looked the more capable of scoring.

David Hodgson made the first break of the game but a fantastic tackle from Bulls full back Stuart Reardon denied him the opening score.

Soon after James Lowes was penalised for a high tackle on Brian Carney but Andy Farrell's kick hit the post and bounced back into play.

That miss was soon forgotten when Terry Newton and Sean O'Loughlin combined to send Danny Tickle racing to the line, beating three men in the process. Farrell converted to open up a 6-0 lead after 17 minutes and the Wigan hoards were in raptures!

After that though Bradford came into the game with the help of captain Robbie Paul, fresh off the bench after four months out injured.

We began to suffer at the hands of the referee and two penalties from Paul Deacon reduced the deficit at half time to 6-4. In between the two penalties the video referee was called in use when Lesley Vainikolo challenged Carney for a high ball in the corner. But Vianikolo was judged to have knocked on.

You could see the signs of tiredness in Wigan as the first half drew to a close and that continue after the break as it wasn't long before the scores were level. Luke Robinson was penalised for tackling Daniel Gartner before he had recieved the football and Deacon kicked his third penalty to tie the scores 6-6.

Then, from a Warriors perspective, came the key incident of the match. Leon Pryce cleaned out Brian Carney, ending his participation in the game with thirty minutes to go.

Unbelievably Pryce was not penalised for the shot which left Carney suffering from concussion. Theirs no doubt in my mind that the Bulls intended to take Carney out because they knew he has the ability to win a match all by himself, as he proved a Leeds the week previous. First Lowes, then Pryce hit him with high shots and neither got punished in the form of a yellow or red card. Referee Karl Kirkpatricks decision not to penalise Pryce at all just beggared belief.

Soon after that the Bulls took control of the game with two quick tries in succession.

First a good offload from Joe Vagana allowed Stuart Reardon to beat some tired Warriors tackling and give Bradford the lead for the first time. It was a superb try that took some scoring.

Then Deacon sent centre Shontayne Hape through a gap and in a seven minute spell the Bulls had built up a two try lead with twenty minutes to go.

Bradford began to see the game out and a drop goal from Deacon with just 10 minutes left looked to be the final nail in the coffin.

But after looking down and out since the first twenty minutes, all of a sudden a 40 metre break from Martin Aspinwall was rounded off by Kris Radlinski. There may have only been eight minutes left but that moment of magic gave us hope despite the 19-12 scoreline.

But that hope was soon dashed as Tickle knocked on from the restart.

With Stuart Fielden held up on the fourth tackle, Lowes did his trademark run from dummy half, scoring from close range and winning the match.

Wigan didn't give up and almost scored again but Dave Hodgson had a foot in touch according to the video referee Steve Cross. It was too late anyway. The game had already been lost and the Bulls completed a unique modern day achievement of winning the Challenge Cup and Super League in the same season.

After the match Mike Gregory felt down but proud.

He said: "I think we missed the experience of Adrian Lam but I am proud of what Luke Robinson has achieved.

"Sean O'Loughlin is also only a baby and this team can go on over the next two years.

"We have started something and these lads now know what it is like to reach a final.

"I am feeling proud of what we have achieved but obviously I am feeling down.

"Bradford were bigger and stronger in the collision and it took a lot out of us.

"When they get on a roll they are hard to stop."

Bulls coach Brian Noble said: "Wigan were great and for the first 15 minutes we were like rabbits caught in the headlights.

"But we showed the character to find a way to win this game - we showed that the team spirit here is intact."

Team Sheets

Bulls

Warriors

No.
Player
Pos No.
Player
17 Stuart Reardon Full Back 1 Kris Radlinski
2 Tevita Viakona Wing 5 Brian Carney
6 Michael Withers Centre 18 Martin Aspinwall
4 Shontayne Hape Centre 14 David Hodgson
5 Lesley Vianikolo Wing 2 Brett Dallas
15 Karl Pratt Stand Off 15 Sean O'Loughlin
7 Paul Deacon Scrum Half 20 Luke Robinson
8 Joe Vagana Prop 30 Quentin Pongia
9 James Lowes Hooker 9 Terry Newton
29 Stuart Fielden Prop 10 Craig Smith
11 Daniel Gartner 2nd Row 11 Mick Cassidy
12 Jamie Peacock 2nd Row 12 Danny Tickle
13 Mike Forshaw L.Forward 13 Andy Farrell
1 Robbie Paul Sub 4 Paul Johnson
3 Leon Pryce Sub 8 Terry O'Connor
10 Paul Anderson Sub 17 Mark Smith
18 Lee Radford Sub 23 Gareth Hock
Score Sheet
Bradford Bulls 25-12 Wigan Warriors

Tries (3):
Stuart Reardon
Shontayne Hape
James Lowes

Tries (2):
Danny Tickle
Kris Radlinski

Goals:
Paul Deacon 6/6

Goals:
Andy
Farrell 2/3

Drop Goals:
Paul Deacon 1

Scoring Pattern

13mins:08 Bradford 00 Wigan 00 A.Farrell Missed Penalty Goal (0/1)
16mins:07 Bradford 00 Wigan 04 Try: Danny Tickle
- Bradford 00 Wigan 06 Conversion: Andy Farrell (1/2)
26mins:53 Bradford 02 Wigan 06 Penalty Goal: Paul Deacon (1/1)
35mins:34 Bradford 04 Wigan 06 Penalty Goal: Paul Deacon (2/2)
Half Time Bradford Bulls 04 Wigan Warriors 06
49mins:00 Bradford 06 Wigan 06 Penalty Goal: Paul Deacon (3/3)
52mins:41 Bradford 10 Wigan 06 Try: Stuart Reardon
- Bradford 12 Wigan 06 Conversion: Paul Deacon (4/4)
58mins:37 Bradford 16 Wigan 06 Try: Shontayne Hape
- Bradford 18 Wigan 06 Conversion: Paul Deacon (5/5)
69mins:42 Bradford 19 Wigan 06 Drop Goal: Paul Deacon
71mins:33 Bradford 19 Wigan 10 Try: Kris Radlinski
- Bradford 19 Wigan 12 Conversion: Andy Farrell (2/3)
74mins:20 Bradford 23 Wigan 12 Try: James Lowes
- Bradford 25 Wigan 12 Conversion: Paul Deacon (6/6)
Full Time Bradford Bulls 25 Wigan Warriors 12
Match Info

Match Attendance: 65,537
Referee: Karl Kirkpatrick (Warrington)
Cherry and White Star Man: Luke Robinson

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