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Super League: Catalan Dragons dent Bradford Bulls' play-off hopes
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Thomas Bosc's late drop-goal sealed a vital 23-22 win for Catalan Dragons over Bradford in the race for the play-offs.
The hosts had raced into an 18-4 half-time lead thanks to a brace of tries from Keith Lulia and a Brett Kearney touchdown.
But the Dragons battled back after the break, with tries from replacement Jamal Fakir, Brent Webb and Ian Henderson - all converted by Thomas Bosc, who then kicked the drop-goal to seal the win.
The victory leaves the visitors sixth in the Super League table, while the Bulls remain in ninth, four points off the play-offs with three games to go.
On a day when all the pre-match headlines centred around Elliott Whitehead's return to Odsal after his acrimonious departure earlier this year, it was the boot of Bosc that snatched the victory for the Dragons in a game they looked well out of at half-time.
The Bulls were unchanged from last weekend's victory over Wakefield but the Dragons - without influential duo Morgan Escare and Scott Dureau - showed five changes to their line-up as they sought their second win in six games.
In contrast, the home side have been in good form of late, and they took the lead in the fifth minute when Lulia - who is set to return to the NRL with Wests Tigers at the end of this year - took a superb ball from Danny Addy to crash over.
The Dragons hit back as a neat kick from the returning Webb saw Mathias Pala ground the ball in the corner, but Bosc missed the conversion.
The Bulls struck again after 15 minutes, full-back Kearney starting and finishing a fine sweeping move to go in under the posts. The hosts then extended their lead to 14 points seven minutes later when Lulia went in for his second as he shrugged off the attentions of three Dragons defenders in the corner.
But the Dragons grabbed the first score of the second period to bring the game alive once more. A magnificent break from Lopini Paea laid the platform before Fakir did the rest to make it 18-10.
The Dragons had all the momentum as the second half wore on, and Whitehead came desperately close to scoring against his former club before the visitors finally made their pressure tell in the 61st minute when Leon Pryce's superb inside ball to Webb brought the Bulls' lead down to just two.
The see-saw nature of the game continued as Pala spilled Luke Gale's chip and after a couple of near misses, Kearney sent Adrian Purtell through a gap and over the try-line.
The big moment arrived in the 73rd minute though, when Kearney was sin-binned for holding down Whitehead in the tackle. Henderson, another former Bradford man, took full advantage by scooting over from dummy-half to level it up.
And Bosc stole it with just three minutes left on the clock to put a serious dent in the Bulls' play-off ambitions.
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First Utility Super League Table
|5||Hull K R||0||0|
|7||Salford Red Devils||0||0|
|First Utility Super League|
|Thursday 5th February|
|20:00||Widnes vs Wigan|
|Friday 6th February|
|20:00||St Helens vs Catalans Dragons|
|Saturday 7th February|
|15:00||Warrington vs Salford|
|Sunday 8th February|
|15:00||Huddersfield vs Hull|
|15:00||Hull K R vs Leeds|
|15:30||Castleford vs Wakefield|
|Thursday 12th February|
|20:00||Salford vs St Helens|
|Friday 13th February|
|20:00||Hull vs Warrington|
|20:00||Leeds vs Widnes|
|20:00||Wigan vs Huddersfield|
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