After weeks of rumour and speculation, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have finally confirmed the sign...
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Official English Super League Round 19 game reports - Friday games. Final Scores: Leigh 22 Wigan 30 and Leeds 36 Bradford 26.
Wigan claim hard-fought win
Three tries in a little over 20 minutes at the start of the second half propelled Wigan to a hard-earned 30-22 win over local rivals Leigh to put talk of a crisis at the JJB Stadium on hold.
The Warriors? current problems had shown little sign of abating as they trailed the bottom-of-the-table Centurions 10-8 at the break after a mistake-littered, scrappy 40 minutes which was played out in wet conditions.
However, Ian Millward?s half-time team talk clearly did the trick as quick-fire scores by Dennis Moran, Terry Newton and Danny Tickle turned the game on its head and silenced pre-match talk of possible relegation from the engage Super League for one of the most famous names in the sport.
The Warriors had gone into the game on the back of two club-record defeats against Leeds Rhinos and St Helens in successive weeks and were never allowed to get into their stride due to a combination of the weather, determined home endeavour and the hostile atmosphere created by the partisan Leigh faithful.
Wigan were again lacking inspirational figures like Kris Radlinski, Sean O?Loughlin, Gareth Hock, Danny Orr and Jerome Guisset, while Leigh came in on the back of seven successive losses but knowing they would never have a better chance to record their first victory over their neighbours since 1984.
They were also boosted by the return of second row Oliver Wilkes after a shoulder problem and Australian hooker Robbie Mears who missed the last defeat at Hull because he was cup-tied.
And the home side were the first off the mark with the opening try on six minutes when John Wilshere took a fine inside ball and strode through some non-existent defence to touch down under the posts, with Phil Jones tagging on the extras against his old club.
The Warriors hit back within two minutes, however, as Brian Carney flicked back a pinpoint bomb from Moran for Martin Aspinwall to score in the right corner, although the angle prevented Wayne Godwin from converting.
Jones soon re-established the six-point gap through two simple penalty goals from bang in front of the posts after needless offences by Jerry Seuseu and Brett Dallas.
Wilkes then broke through the centre of the field and the home side were left to rue him deciding to throw out a very risky pass that went to ground instead of taking the tackle from Dallas which would have set up a good attacking position.
Dallas was caught out of position moments later, however, as Steve Maden streaked in at the corner only to be pulled back by referee Karl Kirkpatrick for a forward pass, while Carney was only just denied a score at the other end by the covering Wilshere at the expense of a drop out.
Wigan grabbed a lifeline in the closing stages of the half as Tickle?s rampaging run down the right flank was finished off well by Aspinwall again in the corner, although Tickle?s attempt at equalising the scores drifted narrowly past the posts.
The visitors came out for the second half clearly fired up and scrum-half Moran took a superb short ball from Newton to force his way over by the posts, Tickle?s conversion giving Wigan a 14-10 lead on 44 minutes.
Tickle extended the lead to six points with a penalty five minutes later when Harrison Hansen was the victim of some over-zealous tackling 20 metres from the tryline.
All of a sudden, Wigan were making big yards from dummy-half and controlling the ball a lot better which was stretching Leigh, and soon it was 18-10 via another Tickle penalty for a ball-stealing offence.
Seconds later the Warriors were in for another four-pointer as, after Rob Jackson spilled a harmless kick forward on the last tackle, Moran sent Tickle through a gap to score a try which the second rower also converted to make it 24-10.
The game was effectively settled a couple of minutes later as Newton gathered a loose ball and touched down in the right-hand corner, Tickle?s goal taking Wigan to the 30-point mark.
Leigh never gave up, though, and late tries by Mike Govin and Matt Sturm provided some degree of consolation, with Jones? goals giving the scoreline a more respectable and accurate look.
Leigh: Wilshere, Maden, Halliwell, Jones, Jackson, Govin, J. Duffy, Fleary, Rowley, Stapleton, Wilkes, Leafa, Kent. Replacements: Stevens, Sturm, Marshall, Mears.
Wigan: Gleeson, Dallas, Vaealiki, Aspinwall, Carney, Allen, Moran, Hargreaves, Godwin, Seu Seu, Wild, Hansen, Botham. Replacements: Newton, Sculthorpe, Tickle, Coyle.
Leigh: (10) 22. Tries: Wilshere, Govin, Sturm. Goals: Jones 5.
Wigan: (8) 30. Tries: Aspinwall 2, Moran, Tickle, Newton. Goals: Tickle 5.
Referee: Karl Kirkpatrick (Warrington) Att: 7,458
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Rhinos charge to win over Bulls
The Bulls battled hard for an hour at Headingley but the engage Super League champions ultimately proved too strong as they powered away for a fifth successive regular season win against their neighbours.
Captain Kevin Sinfield crowned another outstanding display with a 100% goalkicking record.
Bradford managed five tries themselves but it was the extra class of Leeds that eventually told in front of a capacity 21,225 crowd.
Leeds completely dominated the first half and, but for a couple of lapses, would have held a more convincing lead than 18-10 at the break.
They raced out of the blocks, forcing Robbie Paul to knock on early and crossing the whitewash for the opening try within two minutes.
Senior finished superbly on the left for his 101st try for the club as he dummied his way over from a strong Sinfield pass.
Bradford were fortunate to escape further damage soon after as Sinfield passed back inside from a Rob Burrow pass for Jones-Buchanan to go over but the final ball was ruled forward.
The visitors hit back on 14 minutes when former Rhinos hero Iestyn Harris, who had started on the bench, wriggled his way to the line to win a penalty.
Yet Leeds remained the dominant team and Bulls winger Karl Pratt was lucky to avoid embarrassment against his old club when he spilled a pass in-goal and had to kick clear to prevent Chev Walker touching down.
It came as no surprise when Leeds claimed their second try as Jones-Buchanan powered his way through two weak tackles from a Burrow pass midway through the first half.
The home side looked comfortable but they paid for another lapse in concentration as Harris kicked ahead and Paul Johnson touched down.
Paul Deacon converted to cut the gap to two points but Leeds were soon back in the ascendancy as they powered forward.
Sinfield drove towards the line and looked to have been well tackled but a superb offload allowed McGuire to jink his way under the posts just before the interval.
Bradford finally enjoyed a spell of sustained pressure as they looked to force their way back into the game early in the second half.
But they failed to make it count and Leeds gave them a lesson in clinical finishing with a breakaway try on 50 minutes.
Prop Danny Ward broke the line as he burst through a gap and the pacy McGuire took over to run half the length of the field to score.
Sinfield?s conversion made it 24-10 and it could have been worse for Bradford had Andrew Dunemann not knocked on with the line at his mercy.
Bradford did not give in and pulled another four points back when Iestyn Harris put namesake Ben Harris over but Leeds soon put the result beyond doubt.
Sinfield found yet more space in the Bulls defence as he ran wide and a little pass inside sent Senior in for a simple second try.
Bradford claimed two consolation tries in the final 10 minutes to make the score respectable.
First Brad Meyers went in behind the posts and then Johnson finished off a quick move to claim his second.
Deacon converted both to reduce the deficit to 10 but Bradford were a beaten team and their frustration spilled over as Iestyn Harris was sin-binned for foul play on Danny McGuire.
The scuffle that ensued was the last serious action of the match.
Leeds: Mathers, Calderwood, Walker, Senior, Bai, Sinfield, Burrow, Bailey, Dunemann, Ward, Jones-Buchanan, McKenna, Ellis. Replacements: Lauitiiti, McDermott, Poching, McGuire.
Bradford: Withers, Reardon, B. Harris, Johnson, Pratt, Paul, Deacon, Vagana, Henderson, Fielden, Langley, Peacock, Radford Replacements: Parker, Meyers, Lynch, I. Harris.
Leeds: (18) 36. Tries: Senior 2, Jones-Buchanan, McGuire 2, Lauitiiti. Goals: Sinfield 6.
Bradford: (10) 26. Tries: Peacock, Johnson 2, B. Harris, Meyers. Goals: Deacon 3.
Referee: Ashley Klein (London) Att: 21,225
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Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for these great articles.