Bradford earn their first win
By Bob Moore
Before the game kicked off Bradford were without a win and already relegated, so the bookies made the visitors favourites for this one.
But this young looking Bradford side obviously fancied the odds, playing with a spirit and intensity that in the end comfortably saw off a decidedly lacklustre performance from Thatcham.
Once again, the visitors were struggling to achieve any kind of consistency in selection, especially in the back division, so Derek Allan went to stand off and Louis Kanaar-Brown and Mark Smith filled in for the absentee centres. Messrs David and Matt Hamilton, father and son, made up an unlikely Thatcham bench. But the Thatcham pack looked sound and, sure enough, bossed the set pieces giving a key advantage to the visitors.
Thatcham took the early lead with two penalties from Danny Shaughnessy and with the wind behind them Thatcham were playing in the Bradford half for most of the first quarter. But, as has been the problem for much of this season, Thatcham failed to make the most of territorial advantage and gradually Bradford came back into it. The first two tries were giveaways: Bradford making the most of an interception and run though under the posts. Thatcham re-took the lead from the re-start as Derek Allan profited from a charge down. The conversion hit the woodwork, so the scores went to 7 – 11 before Shaughnessy made amends with a penalty, 7 – 14. Thatcham had the lead, but were playing error strewn rugby and failing to take the game into the Bradford danger zone. Bradford started to get into gear and showing good hands ran in a deserved try and conversion to bring the scores level with only five minutes left of the half.
Thatcham were making hard work of it and laboured upfield to be rewarded with a penalty. Opting for the scrum, Tim Apperley got the touchdown and Shaughnessy converted to take a 21 – 14 lead into halftime.
Bradford came out firing in the second half and had their third try within five minutes of the re-start. Tails were up and it looked ominous for the visitors as they went further into arrears within two minutes. Bradford looked like they really wanted it and within five minutes had scored a fifth try to take the score to 31 – 21. Thatcham unsuccessfully attempted a long range penalty and were slowly clawing their way back into it, but were hampered by often unforced mistakes. The lineout wasn’t working well so Thatcham were opting for the scrum when given penalty advantage. With fifteen minutes left on the clock the visitors got into the red zone and from the 5 metre scrum Thatcham’s no 8 Tim Apperley got the pushover try to bring the sides within 5 points. But it’s no good if you’re struggling with the basics and Bradford took full advantage of Thatcham’s often laboured approach, playing far too much of the game in their own half. There was no shortage of possession, but Thatcham did look short on ideas in spite of pressing into good positions often enough. So with five points between the teams, Bradford ensured there were no lingering doubts and sealed it with a sixth try after another Thatcham knock on.
Bradford’s relegation is already sealed and Thatcham are still dicing with it after this performance, but with only three games left their ten point margin over Dorchester looks enough to keep them safe.
1. Matt Langdon; 2. James Thorogood (65, Matt Hamilton); 3. Lewis Davies; 4. David Chambers; 5. Rich Browne; 6. George Seymour; 7. Charlie Rayner; 8. Tim Apperley; 9. Danny Shaughnessy; 10. Derek Allan; 11. Adam Hunter; 12. Louis Kanaar-Brown; 13. Mark Smith; 14. Brandon Davies; 15. Sean Richardson
Replacement: David Hamilton
Tries: Allan; Apperley (2)
Penalties: Shaughnessy (3)