Bradford Bulls and Halifax Panthers provided an exhilarating display of rugby league as they played out a nail-biting 22-22 draw at Odsal Stadium. The match reached its climax when Dec Patton’s last-minute penalty goal levelled the scores, leaving both teams with a share of the spoils.
The encounter saw the return of Michael Lawrence and George Flanagan Snr to the starting line-up for the Bulls, while Fenton Rogers and Billy Jowitt made way from the victorious squad that faced the London Broncos the previous week.
Right from the start, the game was played at a high intensity, with Bradford swiftly gaining an advantage. A well-executed kick by Dec Patton caused a fumble from a Halifax player, providing the Bulls with an opportunity to launch an attack. However, despite the ball being sent wide on the last tackle, Kieran Gill fell short of crossing the try line.
Maintaining their early dominance, Bradford continued to press forward, and their efforts paid off when Jordan Lilley’s pass found Joe Arundel, who scored the opening try of the contest. Dec Patton successfully converted, putting the Bulls 6-0 ahead.
Shortly after, Patton was given the chance to extend their lead following a penalty awarded for a late shot on Jordan Baldwinson. He seized the opportunity, successfully kicking the penalty goal and pushing the score to 8-0 in favour of the Bulls.
However, the Panthers fought back and made their mark on the scoreboard. Three consecutive penalties took them within ten meters of the line, and through skilful ball movement, Matty Gee managed to stretch out and score. Louis Jouffret’s conversion was accurate, allowing the visitors a way back into the game.
Despite their promising performance, Bradford found themselves trailing at halftime. James Saltonstall effortlessly crossed over in the corner after receiving a well-timed pass on the wing. Jouffret’s successful conversion ensured the score read 8-12 in Halifax’s favour at the break.
Undeterred, Bradford carried their positive momentum into the second half. David Foggin-Johnston forced James Saltonstall into touch following an attempted catch, and from the resulting play, Fenton Rogers crashed over the line after receiving a short pass from James Segeyaro.
Patton’s conversion was on target, giving the Bulls a 14-12 lead once again. However, their advantage was short-lived as the Panthers quickly responded. Jouffret exploited a gap left by a Dec Patton injury and dashed over in the right corner. He effortlessly converted his own try, putting Halifax back in front at 14-18.
Halifax extended their lead when Lachlan Walmsley plucked a high kick out of the air and touched down in the corner. However, Jouffret’s first miss of the match meant that the Bulls remained in the game, trailing by only eight points with approximately a quarter of the game remaining.
With relentless pressure on the Panthers’ defence, the Bulls closed the gap further. Brad England burst through the line after another short pass from James Segeyaro, crossing over for a crucial try. Dec Patton’s accurate kicking continued as he converted, narrowing the deficit.
As the game appeared to be heading towards defeat for the Bulls, fate intervened. Tangata’s late tackle on Segeyaro presented Lee Greenwood’s men with an opportunity to draw level. Dec Patton confidently called for the tee and successfully converted the penalty, resulting in a tied game.
Dec Patton’s flawless kicking performance, coupled with tries from Joe Arundel, Fenton Rogers, and Brad England, ensured that the Bulls claimed a valuable point in this intense West Yorkshire battle. Both teams exhibited determination and skill, providing an enthralling spectacle for the fans.