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FULL TIME: Warrington Wolves 50 Bradford Bulls 24
WARRINGTON Wolves clocked up 50 points as they recorded their eighth successive win with the rout of Bradford Bulls at The Halliwell Jones Stadium in Super League Round 18.
Ben Harrison gave Wolves the lead with his first try of the season before Ryan 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.
A frantic second half saw the sides trade nine tries as Joel Monaghan went over twice along with Ben Westwood, Gene Ormsby, O’Brien and Rhys Evans with Adrian Purtell, Tom Olbison and Jay Pitts replying for Bulls.
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 duty 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 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 Ormsby for 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.
Wolves enjoyed a flying start to the second half with debutant King involved early in the move before they made further ground through Higham and Russell.
With barely a minute of the half played Ratchford delivered a high bomb into the Bradford 10 metre line and Monaghan out-jumped full back Kearney to take superbly and go between the posts for his seventh try in five games. Racthford converted.
In almost an identical start to the first half the hosts added another try within five minutes of the restart.
Russell was held up but Higham picked up from dummy half to feed Westwood at pace and he charged over to the right of the posts. Ratchford added the extras.
Less than two minutes later and Wolves passed the 30-point mark when a quick break saw Higham feed Ratchford after full back Russell had broken from deep.
Ratchford gave a neat offload to O’Brien, who drew Kearney before passing to the onrushing Monaghan for his 21st score of the season. Ratchford slotted a simple conversion.
Wolves were over again on 50 minutes after another flowing move resulted in Ormsby going over in the corner.
Glenn Riley broke the tackle and kept the ball alive for Atkins and then O’Brien, who sent a miss-pass for the 21-year-old winger to force his way over for his 10th try of the season. Ratchford was unable to convert from a tight angle.
James Lowes’ side found a way through Wolves’ defence on 57 minutes when Gaskell had the legs to breach the line and make his way deep into the opposition half before sending the supporting Purtell over for a converted try.
Ormsby almost replied on the hour-mark after he given space to attack from Monaghan’s pass, but the winger could not reach out far enough to touchdown and knocked on from Purtell’s tackle.
With 16 minutes left Wolves did hit back when Monaghan twisted his way towards the line before offloading to O’Brien in the tackle and his mazy run took him over for his second of the afternoon. Ratchford converted.
Bulls broke the Wolves line with Kearney and looked set to reduce the deficit when he committed Russell and passed to Gale, but the supporting half back fumbled with a free run at the line in front of him.
Moments later and Wolves made Bradford pay for their missed chances when Atkins was able to release to Evans little over 20 metres from the Bulls line and the winger had the pace to scoot over. Ratchford kicked the extras.
But there was little let-up in the scoring as Bulls proved more clinical with the ball in the hands of Olbison, who took Purtell’s pass and darted over for Gale to convert.
Bulls reduced the deficit further with two minutes to go as Kearney’s neat grubber was grounded by Pitts and Gale added the conversion.
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