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HALF TIME: Warrington Wolves 16 Bradford Bulls 6
RYAN Atkins’ 100th try for Warrington Wolves helped his side establish a first-half lead against Bradford Bulls in Super League Round 18.
Ben Harrison gave Wolves the lead with his first try of the season before Atkins reached a century of touchdowns in primrose and blue and Gareth O’Brien extended the lead further.
Bulls were under the cosh for large spells of the first half but worked a reply through full back Brett Kearney on 35 minutes.
The visitors enjoyed some early pressure but fell short when Danny Addy was held up by a solid Wolves defence on the final tackle.
However, five minutes in it was Wolves who opened the scoring after Bulls had handed them possession through Luke Gale’s dropped pass.
The hosts worked the line before O’Brien dummied his way through and was held up short, only for Harrison to go over from close range.
Stefan Ratchford, back on kicking duties in the absence of Chris Bridge, struck the upright from the conversion.
Two minutes later Wolves stretched their lead after Micky Higham had made good ground with a break from inside his own half.
Wolves moved the ball right from the set and Atkins burst onto a neat grubber to ground one-handed for his 100th try for the club, giving Racthford the easy extras.
The home side were defending their own line well with Higham making a crucial intervention on Lee Gaskell, but looked like scoring with every flurry forward, and they did just that with a third try on 13 minutes.
Higham picked up from dummy half to the left of the posts and fed Ratchford, who sent a neat reverse pass inside to O’Brien and the half back dived over for his second try of the season. Ratchford added the extras.
Tony Smith’s side streamed forward again with Ben Westwood, Ratchford and then Rhys Evans all offloading in the tackle to keep the move flowing, before Atkins was stopped on the left-hand side.
Wolves’ lacked penetration from the set, however, and after Ratchford and O’Brien had failed to find a way through a Bradford defence camped on their own try-line the ball was turned over on the sixth tackle.
Ben Currie reacted quickest to stop Gaskell’s grubber as the visitors enjoyed a rare foray into Wolves’ half through breaks from Elliot Kear and Brett Kearney.
Youngster George King entered the field for his Wolves debut on 28 minutes when he replaced Harrison.
Bradford were struggling to break through a solid Wolves defence, keeping the visitors pinned in their own half for long spells until Gale made a clever kick in behind Gene Ormsby for Adrian Purtell to gather.
Bulls’ centre spilled the ball in the tackle and moments after Wolves had gathered they passed up an opportunity of their own when Evans failed to gather 20 metres out.
The visitors finally replied with five minutes of the half remaining when Kearney broke through the line and wrong footed Matty Russell with a sidestep before going between the posts, Gale converted.
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