Workington Town against Bradford Bulls already promised to be an engaging affair before this week came around; former Bull Leon Pryce is now at the helm of the Cumbrians and, with him, has recruited a handful of players with big reputations and top tier experience.
This week’s furore over the hosts’ refusal to allow Bradford to live stream the match on the internet, then, added a further element of needle to Sunday afternoon’s game and the following 80 minutes lived up to the pre-amble as the Cumbrians won 17-16 with a late drop goal as yet another Betfred League 1 match ended with a tight margin in favour of the winners.
Early on the game was a tight affair with Joe Keyes for the Bulls and Jordan Tansey – one of the aforementioned Town players with a Super League past – trading penalties at Derwent Park. However, with around twenty minutes player, a Jamie Doran hoik into the air resulted in confusion amidst the Bradford ranks and Town’s Caine Barnes reacted quickest to race over the line and give the hosts the lead and, following a second Tansey kick, the score stood at 8-2 with the previously unbeaten league leaders trailing.
That further boosted Workington’s momentum and Carl Forber’s effort fell agonisingly short. Bradford’s recently recruited George Flanagan also thought he had done enough to get the Bulls’ first try but exceptional scrambling defence from Pryce’s men halted the former Hunslet Hawk.
Back down the other end, the hosts’ Gordon Maudling was stopped just before the line by half back Dane Chisholm but, after attempting to slow down the play by holding on, the 27 year old was sent to the sin bin. Tansey converted the resulting penalty and left Bradford trailing by eight points. Almost immediately, that score was cancelled out when Keyes again kicked a penalty – arguably peculiarly given the margin of the scores at the time – to make it 10-4.
That peculiarity, however, was silenced when giant forward Ross Peltier made his presence felt for the Bulls. As all good forwards do, he crashed through the hosts’ line and, following Keyes’ third goal of the half, the scores were 10-10 at half time, a scoreline which Workington may have felt slightly aggrieved by.
The scoreline remained the same until the 54th minute, although Brandon Pickersgill believed he had given Bradford the lead only to be denied following the referee adjudged the 21 year old to have performed a double movement. It was the visitors who took the lead, though, as former Hull KR centre Jake Butler-Fleming – on dual registration to the Bulls from Toronto – crossed having found a gap, Keyes goaling.
After a good period of pressure following conceding, Workington found themselves once more with a man advantage as Chisholm was shown a yellow card for the second time in the afternoon following something of a clothes line tackle on Doran in the 66th minute. Town were able to take advantage of their opponents loss and, on 75 minutes, a Tansey offload was able to release Elliott Miller on the right to score a superb try with time running out. Tansey, fortunately for the hosts, converted and the game was level late on.
Before Town had scored their second try of the game, and while Chisholm was still in the sin bin, Keyes had failed with a drop goal attempt, something which he may be ruing this evening.
That is because it was that man again, Jordan Tansey, who showed his class late on. Following an exemplary goal kicking display and an assist for the game levelling try, he was there in centre field to place a high drop goal through the posts to give his team the narrowest of leads.
Despite a short kick off, Workington’s experienced Sean Penkywicz was able to fall on the ball and the hosts were able to hold onto their lead, becoming the first team to defeat Bradford in League 1 this season.
A shame, perhaps, then that only those in the ground had the opportunity to see the match following the streaming spat but nothing can take away from the fact that this was yet another superb game served up in League 1, something the powers that be should look at when talking of deregulating the third tier.
Workington Town: Tansey, Hambley, Akehurst, Miller, Patrick, Doran, Forber, Wilkes, Penkywicz, Bailey, G Maudling, K Maudling, Barnes
Interchanges: Newton, Dawson, Moore, Ryan
Bradford Bulls: Pickersgill, Grant, Butler-Fleming, Oakes, Ryan, Keys, Chisholm, Crossley, Hallas, Bustin, Garside, Minchella, Milton
Interchanges: Flanagan, Johnson, Peltier, Wood