On a wet and windy Sunday afternoon at Odsal the Warriors were
impressive victors 28-16 over Bradford Bulls in a pre-season
‘trial’ game which doubled as Paul Deacon’s Testimonial match.
The weather had many fans reminiscing about the good old days
of winter rugby, however the skills on display were more akin to
the modern era with some excellent free-running rugby from the
Warriors keeping the 5,000-strong crowd well entertained.
Before the game both teams paid tribute to the Wigan-born half
back who has spent 10 years at Odsal, since signing for them from
Oldham Bears in 1998, with Bulls Chairman Peter Hood and Warriors
Captain Sean O’Loughlin both making presentations on behalf of
their respective clubs.
The Warriors handed a debut to centre George Carmont, a week
after he arrived in the country and prop Andy Coley made his
second start in a Warriors shirt after an impressive display at
Warrington last Sunday. The Bulls meanwhile named a near full
strength team featuring all six of their new signings as well as
loose forward Jamie Langley who made a return after sitting out
the second half of 2007 through injury.
The Warriors started the stronger with some lively handling and
constant pressure and were the first to score, a scoot from dummy
half by Mickey Higham drew the full back and he offloaded to
Harrison Hansen who score 15 meters to the left of the posts.
Richards added the extra’s to make it 0-6 after 8 minutes.
Bradford responded on 16 minutes as Newton jinked around the
defence and put Burgess through a gap for the young prop to reach
over the line and ground the ball despite the best efforts from
Richards. Deacon kicked his first goal of the afternoon to make it
The Bulls took the lead on 23 minutes when Tadulala collected a
Deacon kick which found the Warriors short and the big wingman
fended the tackle from Colbon to score in the left corner. Deacon
missed the kick. 10-6 to the Bulls.
Despite the incessant rain, the Warriors continued to play an
expansive running game and scored next with young winger Sean
Ainscough touching down in the corner from a Leuluai grubber kick.
Richards kicked the conversion to make it 10-12 after 32 minutes,
and that’s how it stayed until Half Time.
The second half started poorly for the Bulls as David Solomona
was stretchered from the field with a tear of the medial knee
ligament and it got worse for the hosts when Barrett’s 40-20 lead
to a great opportunity for Carmont to score on his debut, however
the centre was tackled just short of the line. From the resulting
set another neat Barrett kick found winger Ainscough to score his
second try of the afternoon. Richards’ conversion made it 10-18
after 50 minutes.
Richards scored within 60 seconds of the kick off when a
Paleaaesina offload found Thomas Leuluai who raced 60 metres
before drawing the full back and passing to Richards who scored
under the sticks. The full back added the two to make it 10-24.
The Warriors looked the fresher of the two sides and dominated
large parts of the second half with a strong kicking game lead by
the inspirational Trent Barrett, and it was the Aussie star who
fed Carmont in the left corner on 67 minutes for the Samoan to
score his first try in a Warriors shirt. Stanton took over the
kicking duties but missed with his first effort to make it 10-28.
Both teams made a number of substitutions as the game wound
down but it was the Bulls who finished the scoring as a sweeping
move ended with Dave Halley touching down in the left hand corner.
Deacon kicked the conversion and the game finished Bradford Bulls
16 Wigan Warriors 28.
A very good performance pleased Head Coach Brian Noble and the
considerable number of fans that travelled over the Pennines.