A RECORD crowd of 1,465 gathered at the Butts Park Arena to witness Bradford Bulls thrash Coventry Bears 62-12 in League One.
The former world champions eventually emerged as comfortable winners, but only after Coventry Bears took and held a surprise lead for a quarter of the match.
A strong drive by Ashley Bateman paved the way for an offload to Kam Pearce-Paul who put the home side in front after just four minutes. Ben Stead added two extra points.
Bradford were soon attacking again, but clumsy handling in the sun and dust thwarted them on more occasions than even the Bears strong tackling.
However, with 16 minutes gone, Bulls’ Dane Chisholm cut through to put Ethan Ryan over the line.
Chisholm’s missed conversion meant the home side still had the lead.
The Bulls dominance in possession eventually paid off as George Milton wove his way through the defensive line.
Elliott Minchella was the next over and Chisholm made no mistake with these conversions, putting the score at 16-6.
Coventry continued to attack until the half time hooter with Dan Gover coming close to narrowing the margin, but just missing out.
Within a minute of the restart, Ross Peltier was over the line, but the conversion failed.
Then just two minutes later, a good run by Halafihi put Laithwaite in a great position to pierce the home defence.
And two minutes after that, Bradford’s man of the match Minchella was over for another try.
With Chisholm getting the last two kicks, the score was now 32-6.
However, the Bears were in no mood to curl up and die, as Stead put the ball out to Chris Barratt who was in just the right position to get himself on the scoresheet.
Stead’s kick brought the difference to 32-12.
Joe Keyes broke away and sprinted over for a stunning try on 53 minutes and the difference in fitness was now beginning to show.
After a moment’s hesitation by the Bears defence, Liam Johnson seized the loose ball and bagged another try for the Bulls.
Hallas then led another blitz in the final ten minutes, scoring after a searing diagonal run.
Not to be outdone, his Bulls team-mate Minchella added his third of the afternoon.
Hallas then added to his tally with a try straight from the Bears’ kick-off.