The Easter programme starts this Thursday with two matches – Bradford Bulls v London Broncos and Leigh Centurions v Swinton Lions – and the other four fixtures will be played a day later. Then there’s the usual six games on Easter Monday. The preview for those matches will be published at the weekend. Enjoy your Rugby League!
Bradford Bulls v London Broncos
Two of the division’s four full-time sides face off as Bradford Bulls take on London Broncos at the Provident Stadium. Both teams were knocked out of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup last week but who will get back on track this Thursday?
Last Time Out
Bradford Bulls were defeated by Dewsbury Rams at the Tetley’s Stadium by a lone point, 31-30, in the fourth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup. Bradford were 18-16 down at the half, but it was the Bulls who struck first in the tie through Omari Caro. Three tries in 12 minutes for Dewsbury gave the hosts a rather lengthy lead after half an hour. A Dalton Grant score, as well as two from Dale Morton, put Glenn Morrison’s side in a good position but Bradford did hit back on two occasions before the break as debutant Joe Lumb crossed the whitewash before Danny Addy touched down with a minute of the half to spare. Five minutes after the restart, promising prop forward Jack Teanby extended Dewsbury’s advantage with a four pointer but, to the dismay of the Rams, the visitors notched three consecutive tries in the space of nine minutes to go 30-24 in front. Matty Blythe scored twice, and Tom Olbison also registered a try in-between as the Bulls looked to take control of proceedings. The character of the Dewsbury side shone through, though, as they scored the next seven points to win the game by the smallest of margins. Aaron Brown recorded a converted try to level the scores halfway into the final quarter, and then three minutes later Paul Sykes stepped up against his former side to slot over a drop goal to win the game for the Rams.
London Broncos were also eliminated from the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup at the fourth round stage as fellow Championship side Featherstone Rovers triumphed 48-26 at Trailfinders Sports Ground. Despite the end result, it was the hosts who started the match like a house on fire with three tries on the spin. Elliot Kear, Alex Foster and Rhys Williams all found their way over the whitewash before Featherstone responded with a lone four pointer on 34 minutes courtesy of five-try hero Ian Hardman. The second half proved to be way more fruitful for the West Yorkshire side, who outscored their opponents from the capital 44-12. The visitors registered four tries on the bounce to start the second half in a very different fashion to how they began the match. Jack Ormondroyd, Sam Day, Hardman and Kyran Johnson were the try-scorers for the Rovers, who suddenly had a foothold in the match at 26-14 up. Foster grabbed his second try for the hosts to cut the deficit to six points but Featherstone weren’t resting on their laurels, as tries from Scott Turner and Hardman put three scores between the teams. William Barthau kept London’s slim hopes alive with a 70th minute effort but a Hardman double-salvo rounded off a great day for the full-back and his side.
The prop forwards of both sides will be battling tooth and nail to get their way over the advantage line on Thursday, and give their more creative teammates a good chance of rattling up some points. Paul Clough and former London enforcer Rhys Lovegrove started in the front-row for Bradford against Dewsbury last weekend while Steve Crossley and Mitch Clark were their replacements on the interchange. There’s no Lovegrove in this Thursday’s 19 man squad but the introduction of Wales international Dan Fleming is a talented replacement for the Bulls. For London, they went with Jamie Thackray and Jon Magrin as the starters against Featherstone with Mark Offerdahl and Toby Everett providing the fresh legs from the bench. Nick Slyney has made his way into the 19 man squad for London this week and his presence will be felt massively if selected by coach Andrew Henderson. Both teams have very capable forward packs and the collisions that will be going on in the midfield should be eye watering to say the least.
As mentioned before, last week’s losses suffered by Bradford and London will have left a bitter taste in the mouth for everyone associated with the clubs and now is the time to be setting the record straight. The Bulls had a very accomplished record at the Provident Stadium last year and they will be striving to replicate that form throughout 2016. London have had a great start to the Championship season as they currently sit at the top of the tree, and this Thursday’s challenge is their biggest one yet and it will prove a good acid test for this year’s early pace-setters
Bradford by 14
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