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FULL TIME: Bradford Bulls 10 Warrington Wolves 46
WOLVES are 80 minutes away from a return to Wembley.
They had too much quality on show for a stubborn Bradford side as Wolves avenged the Super League loss at Odsal of last month.
Tony Smith’s men, reaching their fifth Challenge Cup semi final in six years under his guidance, built an 18-4 half-time lead and then after a brief Bulls fightback put the game out of reach with Richie Myler’s second try in the 65th minute.
Myler, making his first start at scrum half since returning from injury, was at the heart of Wolves’ best attacking work, alongside loose forward Stefan Ratchford and fellow half back Chris Bridge, who gave a fine display of goal-kicking at his former home ground with seven successful conversions to eight tries.
Late tries from Joel Monaghan, two, and Ben Currie put the gloss on a fine cup win in front of 5,064 supporters.
Early on though, with Wolves running into a strong wind, there were a lot of handling mistakes and when Wolves reached Bradford’s danger zone they were not able to make the most of opportunities due to knock-ons.
It took dominant Warrington 14 minutes to break down Bradford’s stubborn resistance.
After a penalty gained for interference at a play-the-ball, Myler stepped off his right foot and weaved a route to the line just to the right of the posts to give Bridge a simple conversion shot.
Bradford hit back the first time they got close to Warrington’s line, helped by Currie’s offload going to Bradford’s hands on Wolves’ 30m line.
On the last tackle of Bradford’s set, the ball came loose from a dummy-half charge and Luke Gale fired a long pass that allowed Adrian Purtell to put Elliott Kear over in the 19th minute.
Wolves’ response was clinical as Bridge found touch from the re-start. Moments later Ryan Atkins wrong-footed Gale to cash in on Myler’s pass. Bridge’s extras made it 12-4 after 22 minutes.
And then there was no stopping Matty Russell at first receiver from short range after a pair of dummy runners occupied Bradford defenders. Bridge was bang on with the boot again to move Wolves 18-4 in front after 27 minutes.
Wolves had a Myler score ruled out at the start of the second half for a forward pass from Ratchford and then Bradford got themselves back in it.
Bridge’s pass caught Matty Blythe’s hand in the tackle but rather than ruling on a knock on the video referee governed the ball had not been played at and Luke George’s race home from 80 metres after scooping up the loose possession was allowed to stand. Gale’s kick from wide out cut the arrears to eight points after 46 minutes.
Wolves, fuming with the decision, did not panic but struck back brilliantly seven minutes later to restore the 14-point cushion.
Myler and Roy Asotasi were both held up short before Bridge’s long looping pass allowed unmarked Gene Ormsby to walk home from close range and Bridge hit the mark with the touchline conversion.
Simon Grix, returning from injury off the bench, had a score ruled out in the 57th minute after an offside from Bridge’s grubber kick was spotted by the video referee.
Myler’s second try straight from dummy half in the 65th minute, with Bridge adding his fifth conversion, killed off any remaining hopes of a Bulls fightback at 30-10.
Bridge and Ratchford created tries for Joel Monaghan in the 69th and 75th minutes before Ben Currie added his name to the score sheet in the 78th minute, with Bridge converting all but the last one.
Bulls: Lee Gaskell; Elliot Kear, Adrian Purtell, Matty Blythe, Luke George; Danny Addy, Luke Gale; Manase Manuokafoa, Matt Diskin, Chev Walker, Jay Pitts, Tom Olbison, James Donaldson. Subs: Adam Sidlow, Adam O’Brien, Jamal Fakir, Adam Henry.
Referee: Phil Bentham
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