62 mins ago
Round 2: Harlequins and Bulls all
level at Odsal
Injury-hit Harlequins pulled off a major upset when they twice came from behind to earn a point from a tough-tackling clash with engage Super League champions Bradford as the game finished 18-18.
Inspired by New Zealand scrum-half Thomas Leuluai, the Londoners put last week?s horror show against St Helens behind them to end the Bulls? 14-match winning run.
Quins would have claimed both points had former Bradford centre Paul Sykes succeeded with an injury-time drop goal but his long-range effort drifted wide.
Bradford were clearly happy with a point after an indifferent display on their first appearance at Odsal since their Grand Final and World Club Challenge triumphs.
Twice Paul Deacon attempted late penalties to force a draw and, to the relief of the 11,000 crowd, he succeeded with his second effort two minutes from the end of normal time.
Already without five players through injury, Quins were forced to re-shuffle their side following the late withdrawal of last year?s top tryscorer Luke Dorn, who suffered a hamstring injury in their last training session.
Matt Gafa, one of eight close-season signings, moved to stand-off and club captain Rob Purdham from loose forward to centre, and teenage trialist Tony Clubb was drafted in as substitute.
The early signs were ominous for the visitors, with Bradford hooker Ian Henderson taking Paul Johnson?s pass and jinking his way over for an eighth-minute try, goaled by Paul Deacon.
That opening score came while Quins were down to 12 men following the sin-binning of Gafa for holding down full-back Michael Withers after he had collected Leuluai?s grubber kick and raced 80 metres up-field.
But the Bulls were unable to capitalise on their fine start, frequently gifting possession with an alarming number of handling errors, and the visitors gradually came more into the game.
They drew level on 13 minutes when Leuluai sidestepped his way through a flat-footed defence and went in front on 29 minutes when the little Kiwi got substitute Danny Williams charging through a gap to touch down.
Sykes kicked both conversions to give his side a six-point advantage at the break but two tries in the first six minutes of the second half looked to have turned the game on its head.
First left centre Shontayne Hape cut a superb line from Iestyn Harris? pass to scythe through and then right centre Ben Harris profited from a fumble by Harlequins winger Rikki Sheriffe, who was deceived by an awkward bounce from Gene?s grubber kick.
With Leuluai prompting and probing, the Londoners were quickly back onto the attack and hard-working forward Lee Hopkins burst through the attempted tackle of Matt Cook and Paul Johnson to level the scores.
Sykes? third successful conversion edged the visitors 18-16 ahead and, after Deacon put his first penalty attempt wide, he atoned for the lapse just in time.
Bradford (6) 18.
Tries: Henderson, Hape, B. Harris. Goals: Deacon 3.
Harlequins RL (12) 18.
Tries: Leuluai, Williams, Hopkins. Goals: Sykes 3.
Bradford: Withers, Bai, B. Harris, Hape, Pryce, I. Harris, Deacon, Fielden, Henderson, Lynch, Johnson, Meyers, Langley.
Replacements: Vagana, McKenna, Gene, Cook.
Harlequins RL: Lucky Luisi, Sheriffe, Sykes, Purdham, Bradley-Qalilawa, Gafa, Leuluai, Temata, Weisner, Heckenberg, Haumono, Hopkins, Mbu.
Replacements: Williams, Clubb, Mills, Tookey.
Referee: A Klein (London)