Brave Bulls hold off Tigers
Recalled winger Ainscough helps himself to a hat-trick of tries
Last Updated: 04/06/12 11:48pm
Troubled Bradford leapfrogged over Leeds into the final play-off berth with a 46-32 victory over Castleford at Odsal on Monday night.
Shaun Ainscough marked his recall with a hat-trick of tries, the last of which made sure the cash-strapped Bulls would pick up the two points they needed to move above the Rhinos in the Stobart Super League standings.
The hosts at one stage led 34-10 but were forced to hold off a second-half fightback from the Tigers, who have now lost three in a row.
The win gives Bradford their first double of the season, having triumphed 20-12 at a snow-bound PROBIZ Coliseum back in February.
Their performance was impressive considering the turmoil around the club - as well as their current financial plight, Australian centre Adrian Purtell suffered a heart attack on the way back from the defeat against Leeds last weekend at Magic Weekend in Manchester.
Yet all the turmoil didn't seem to bother them as they ran in six tries in the opening 40 minutes, starting with a first on home turf for centre Keith Lulia.
Brett Kearney soon touched down for the first of his brace, half-backs Ben Jeffries and Luke Gale combining to put him through a huge hole - though Castleford kept themselves in touch with a try from Jordan Thompson.
But talented teenager John Bateman - a target for Warrington - stretched out to push the Bulls into a double-figure lead again and Olivier Elima followed his fellow forward in touching down, Luke Gale converting both to make it 22-4.
Although Rangi Chase and Nathan Massey did go over for the Tigers, a quick-fire double from Ainscough, the first of which saw him pluck a Jeffries kick out of the air, meant the Bulls were in complete charge at the break.
Castleford's plight wasn't helped when they lost forward Massey to an elbow injury, though that didn't stop them from making a game of it.
Danny Orr put Rhys Williams in at the corner and just three minutes later the winger scored again, benefiting from a woeful effort by Ainscough to deal with a Chase bomb.
Kearney's second of the night briefly quelled the Tigers, but a fine solo effort from Chase - successfully converted by Kirk Dixon - left the game in the balance.
In the end, however, they had left themselves too much to do. Ainscough finally finished them off five minutes from time, Gale adding his seventh conversion from out wide to complete the scoring.
The defeat just about ends Cas' hopes of making the play-offs. For Bradford, however, the season is still well and truly alive. It can only be hoped something can be done in the near future to make sure the same can be said for the club.