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Derby joy for defiant Bulls
Victory over Leeds recalls Bradford's recent glory days
Bradford put their financial woes behind them - for 80 minutes at least - to beat Leeds 12-4 on a night of high emotion at Odsal.
In front of a bumper crowd of 20,821, not even the late dismissal of prop Bryn Hargreaves for a spear tackle on Jamie Peacock could take the shine off a tremendous performance by the Bulls, who trailed for most of the match, but struck with two tries in the last 15 minutes.
Already without 10 members of his senior squad through injury, Bradford coach Mick Potter was forced to re-shuffle his side after losing winger Karl Pryce in the opening stages.
It was another blow he could have done without. Second rower Elliot Whitehead has proved to be a useful makeshift centre, but the Bulls lacked punch against the Rhinos' classy threequarters.
They had plenty of possession and their approach work got them into good positions, but Mick Potter's men lacked the cutting edge to break down an efficient Leeds defence.
The champions were still without long-serving half-backs Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow, but that gave teenager Stevie Ward another chance to demonstrate his potential and he showed some nice touches.
Defences were on top throughout a scrappy first half, the only score coming after 14 minutes when Leeds centre Zak Hardaker touched down for the fifth consecutive game, taking Brent Webb's pass and stretching for the line.
Leeds tried to bring their dangerous wingers into play, but most of their work was spent on defence, coping with the clever kicks of Ben Jeffries.
The standard of rugby barely improved in the second half, although Leeds skipper Kevin Sinfield demonstrated his kicking prowess with a 40-20 and a 'bomb' that full-back Brett Kearney failed to deal with.
Whitehead went close to breaking the deadlock eight minutes into the second half when he was held up on his back over the line and substitute prop Phil Joseph was brought back for a forward pass.
The frustrations boiled over into a couple of minor skirmishes, while Bradford's French forward Olivier Elima was sin-binned on the hour by referee Ben Thaler for dissent.
Down to 12 men, the Bulls produced their best spell of the match as the bumper crowd got behind them.
Winger Shaun Ainscough, on his first appearance of the season, broke clear only to fail to use his support, but Bradford maintained the pressure and Langley touched down after Heath L'Estrange's bouncing kick caused havoc in the Leeds defence.
With the scores tied, Jarrod Sammut maintained his composure to land the angled conversion and edge his side into the lead.
Leeds simply could not get a foothold in the game and it was no surprise when the Bulls extended their lead after 73 minutes when Jeffries re-gathered his own kick to grab a second try.
Sammut's second goal gave the home side an eight-point lead and Bradford ought to have added another try, with Danny Addy breaking clear to get Ainscough in sight of the line, but the Leeds scrambled to avert the danger.
The game ended on a sour note when Hargreaves was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Peacock, but the Bulls supporters were already in celebration mood by then.
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First Utility Super League Table
|4||Salford Red Devils||7||7|
|11||Hull K R||6||4|
|First Utility Super League|
|Thursday 26th March|
|20:00||Salford Red Devils vs Widnes Vikings|
|Friday 27th March|
|20:00||Castleford Tigers vs Hull FC|
|20:00||Wigan Warriors vs Wakefield Wildcats|
|20:00||Hull K R vs St Helens|
|20:00||Warrington Wolves vs Huddersfield Giants|
|Saturday 28th March|
|17:00||Catalans Dragons vs Leeds Rhinos|
|Thursday 2nd April|
|20:00||Hull vs Hull K R|
|20:00||Wakefield vs Catalans Dragons|
|20:00||Widnes vs Warrington|
|Friday 3rd April|
|12:45||Castleford vs Leeds|
|First Utility Super League|
|Sunday 22nd March|
|Widnes Vikings 20 - 16 Hull K R|
|Wakefield Wildcats 14 - 44 Huddersfield Giants|
|Friday 20th March|
|Leeds Rhinos 26 - 14 Wigan Warriors|
|Castleford Tigers 30 - 16 Salford Red Devils|
|Hull FC 33 - 22 Catalans Dragons|
|Thursday 19th March|
|St Helens 32 - 24 Warrington Wolves|
|Sunday 15th March|
|Hull K R 50 - 20 Catalans Dragons|
|Salford Red Devils 24 - 18 Wakefield Wildcats|
|Friday 13th March|
|Widnes Vikings 20 - 30 St Helens|
|Wigan Warriors 13 - 12 Hull FC|
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