Sheffield Eagles started their Super 8 campaign with a heavy 42-10 defeat to Bradford Bulls at Odsal Stadium.
Eagles failed to re-capture their form which brought them victory over the Bulls at the end of the regular season, with a rejuvenated Bradford dominating from the first whistle, outscoring the Eagles by eight tries to two.
Mark Aston’s side will have fancied their chances of causing an upset with Bulls ending the regular campaign with just one win from five. However, James Lowes’ side remain a tough nut to crack at Odsal, and extinguished Eagles’ hopes with a destructive opening 15 minutes.
Bulls stamped their authority on the game with their first attack. After a flowing move to the left Danny Williams had plenty of space to sprint to the corner to dive over after just three minutes. Danny Addy missed the conversion. There was a real sense of déjà vu when five minutes later Williams ran in a repeat score, when Bulls again switched the play to devastating effect. This time Addy expertly added the extra two points.
The only bright moment for the visitors in the opening exchanges was a surging break from Quentin Laulu-Togagae, which ended with Sam Smeaton being held over the whitewash.
But the hosts were punching major holes in the Eagles defence, and after another scintillating move Lee Gaskell provided the finish in the corner after a series of impressive offloads. Addy missed the conversion.
Eagles gradually grabbed a foothold, forcing two goalline drop outs before snatching a try just before half time. Aston’s side won a penalty to give them prime field position with Smeaton finding Misi Taulapapa who finished in the corner. Briggs converted.
Any hopes of a comeback were ended instantly when Addy’s clever grubber kick behind the whitewash was snaffled by Adam Henry, who grounded for the Bulls’ fifth try. Addy added the extras.
The busy Gaskell bagged his second try at the start of the second stanza after collecting Adam O’Brien’s grubber kick, as Eagles struggled to stem the flow of tries. Addy missed the extras.
Aston’s side managed to hold Bulls at bay for a period, but after a raft of handling errors they broke through again when Gaskell completed his hat-trick, after powering his way to line. Addy kicked the extras.
Eagles afternoon was summed up when Laulu-Togagae knocked on when closing in on the line, and the home support showed no sympathy when Dominic Brambani missed touch after winning a penalty.
Bulls’ new recruit James Clare muscled his way over the line with the Eagles powerless to prevent Bradford’s eighth score, and Addy duly added the extras to take the hosts past the 40 point mark.
Menzie Yere gave the Eagles following something to cheer at the death with a late score, but Briggs missed the conversion.
BRADFORD SCORERS: Tries: Williams (3,8), Gaskell (6, 48, 66), Pitts (28), Henry (40), Clare (75); Goals: Addy 5/8
EAGLES SCORERS: Taulapapa (38), Yere (80) Goals: Briggs 1/2
Bradford: Mullaney; Williams, Purtell, Henry, Clare, Gaskell, Addy, Clough, O’Brien, Sidlow, Olbison, Ferguson, Pitts. Interchange: Blythe, Lauaki, Crossley, Ryan.
Tries: Williams (3,8), Gaskell (6, 48, 66), Pitts (28), Henry (40), Clare (75) Goals: Addy 5/8
Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Yere, Smeaton, Taulapapa, Briggs, Brambani, Thorpe, Carlile, Stringer, Knowles, Straugheir, Petersen. Interchange: Battye, Davey, Davies, Tonks.
Tries: Taulapapa (38), Yere (80) Goals: Briggs 1/2
Referee: Matt Thomason.