Hull KR 54-24 Bradford: Bulls beaten in Championship opener
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 05/02/17 8:42pm
Bradford coach Geoff Toovey saw the size of the task awaiting him after the new Bulls went down 54-24 to Hull KR in their opening match of the 2017 Kingstone Press Championship.
Toovey, who has arrived in England on a holiday visa, sat alongside caretaker coach Leigh Beattie as a Bradford side thrown together at a fortnight's notice were outscored by nine tries to four in their first competitive match since reformation.
There was no lack of spirit or endeavour from the inexperienced Bulls but, with their penalty for going into liquidation, they already find themselves 14 points adrift of the promotion favourites, against whom they face two more daunting fixtures this season.
Conversely, it was a promising start for new Rovers coach Tim Sheens as his new-look team began the long haul back from the heartbreak of their defeat in the Million-Pound Game four months ago in impressive fashion in front of a bumper crowd of 8,817 at KCOM Craven Park, where scrum-half Jamie Ellis contributed 22 of his side's points.
The home club began the afternoon with a poignant tribute to the late Colin Hutton but it was Bradford, led by veteran Leon Pryce and his half-back partner Jordan Lilley, one of four players loaned to the club by one-time rivals Leeds, who made the livelier start and threatened to pull off a shock when prop Liam Kirk took Lilley's short pass to crash over for the game's first try on seven minutes.
Centre Ross Oakes also grabbed a first-half try for Bradford, touching down Pryce's delicate grubber kick, and Oscar Thomas added both conversions but Rovers' extra power and pace gradually began to take effect.
Australian centre recruit Andrew Heffernan scored the Robins' first try, Nick Scruton powered over for two in four minutes and two of last year's regulars, James Donaldson and Thomas Minns, touched down before half-time when the home side led 30-12.
James Greenwood and Ellis added further tries within 10 minutes of the restart before full-back Adam Quinlan provided the highlight, finishing off a sparkling move initiated by Ellis.
Heffernan added his second and Ellis took his goal tally to nine from nine attempts but Bradford's heads never dropped and they struck back with late tries from wingers Ethan Ryan and Iliess Macani, with Thomas kicking his fourth goal.