Bulls stun Wigan
Bradford's players demonstrated the never-say-die qualities the club will need to survive as they pulled off a stunning 30-22 victory over Stobart Super League leaders Wigan in front of a shell-shocked crowd of 19,628 at the DW Stadium.
The Warriors had hooker Michael McIlorum sent off on 55 minutes for punching and the visitors scored the all-important try through Karl Pryce with a man advantage against a side playing their second game in five days - but there was no doubt this was a victory for the Bulls' survival spirit.
Pryce had already scored a try early in the game, while team-mates Brett Kearney, Keith Lulia and Elliott Whitehead also went over for the Bulls, with Luke Gale kicking five goals. Anthony Gelling, Jack Murphy, Ben Flower and Dom Crosby made tries for the Warriors, with Josh Charnley kicking three goals.
Whether or not this turns out to be the Bulls' last match, it will be a triumph that will live long in the memory as the Bradford team cast aside the uncertainty caused by the club's grave financial troubles to produce a display of true courage and commitment.
There was little hint of the drama to come when Wigan took the lead after just three minutes, with Gareth Hock offloading from the tackle to free up centre George Carmont and winger Gelling finishing off the slick move.
The Bulls were down to 12 men when Pryce was sin-binned for holding down Darrell Goulding in the tackle to prevent a quick play-the-ball and the home side extended their lead in his absence through Murphy, while Charnley's goal made it 10-0 after 15 minutes.
The Bulls were in no mood to roll over, though, and they took the lead with two tries in 10 minutes. Scrum-half Gale combined superbly with Kearney and Jarrod Sammut to send Pryce in for his eighth try of the season before centre Keith Lulia broke free down the left wing and got the supporting Kearney over. Gale kicked both conversions to make it 12-10.
Ben Flower then scored his first try for Wigan on his first appearance since March, but the Yorkshiremen regained the lead on the stroke of half-time when Lulia finished off a glorious move.
Wigan forced two goal-line drop-outs after the break and the pressure paid off on 51 minutes when replacement prop Crosby went through a gap in the Bradford defence to register his first Super League try. Charnley's third goal made it 22-18, but the Warriors were reduced to 12 men for the last 25 minutes when McIlorum was sent off for swinging a punch at Elima.
That gave the Bulls all the encouragement they needed and they drew level for the third time with 10 minutes to go when second rower Whitehead jinked his way over for their fourth try. Gale maintained his composure to land his fourth goal to nudge his side back in front and they clinched victory when Charnley made a mess of Gale's crossfield kick to present Pryce with his second try.