Challenge Cup: London Broncos 25-16 Bradford Bulls

London Broncos (18)

  • Tries: Cook, Dixon, Wheeldon, Witt
  • Goals: Witt 4
  • Drops: Witt

Bradford Bulls (6)

  • Tries: Sammut, Scruton, Kear
  • Goals: Sammut 2

Craig Gower inspired London Broncos to a first Challenge Cup victory against Bradford Bulls and a quarter-final place for the second year running.

Gower's creativity contributed to all four of the Broncos tries, scored by Matt Cook, Kieran Dixon, Scott Wheeldon and Michael Witt.

Witt top-scored for Tony Rea's side, after he added to his try with four conversions and a late drop goal.

Bradford's scores came from Jarrod Sammut, Nick Scruton and Elliot Kear.

The visitors took the lead after indiscipline from Antonio Kaufusi and Olsi Krasniqi coughed up penalties and eventually led to Luke Gale's pass taken in by Sammut to score.

Injury blow for Bulls

Manase Manuokafoa will be out for six to eight weeks after a second scan showed up a thumb fracture.

The 28-year-old Tonga international picked up the injury in the defeat by Leeds last week.

However Rea's side responded with three unanswered tries in the first period to establish a lead, inspired by the creativity of Gower who mixed up his kicking game to torment the Bulls.

Firstly his 40-20 created the platform, and after a penalty the former Australia test half-back slipped a pass for Cook to score against his former club - his second try in as many games.

Kaufusi's hit on James Donaldson saw him placed on report, while the Bulls back-rower was sidelined for the rest of the match, and London added a second score when Gower supplied winger Dixon whose pace took him clear.

Broncos completed the first half scoring when Ben Fisher teed up Wheeldon with a quick pass to crash over from close in after Gower's kick forced a Bradford drop out.

Bulls looked to have scored when Adrian Purtell went over but referee James Child chalked it off for a double knock-on in play to frustrate Francis Cummins.

Cook knocked-on 20 metres out when Broncos were well-placed to score, and Michael Witt made up for a simple drop goal miss to touch down from another probing Gower kick to move further ahead.

Heath L'Estrange's forward pass to Scruton seemed to sum up Bradford's fortunes, but the latter gave Bulls a chance when he powered through a string of challenges to crash over.

Witt had a second pop at a drop goal to see London home, and Kear's late score for Bradford proved little more than a consolation.

VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM

London Broncos head coach Tony Rea said:

"I thought a lot of our victory was down to the forwards. They fronted up and took the game to Bradford and put us on the front foot. The middle blokes built the platform for us and that allows the players like Craig Gower and Michael Witt to do what they do.

"We stuck together and kept things tight and everybody worked really hard for each other.

"We have come through two difficult rounds in the cup now and it is not easy to get yourself into the last eight like we have.

Bradford Bulls coach Francis Cummins said:

"We are a bit restricted on the playing front at the moment and we have got a few players in poor form. I thought everybody still tried really hard, but we kept coming up with silly errors.

"We just did not have enough quality. We started to roll them back at times but when we needed to show patience we didn't.

"Obviously everybody has dreams of doing well in the cup so we are all pretty disappointed. You can handle it if you play well and come up short but we didn't really so that is hard to take."

FRIDAY'S SQUADS

London Broncos: Robertson; Melling, Howell, Sarginson, Dixon; Witt, Gower; Kaufusi, Lee, Krasniqi, Grady, Bailey, Cook.

Replacements: Dorn, Bryant, Fisher, Wheeldon.

Bradford Bulls: Kearney; Kear, Blythe, Lulia, Purtell; Sammut, Gale; Scruton, L'Estrange, Walker, Addy, Whitehead, Donaldson.

Replacements: Diskin, Bateman, Evans, Sidlow.

Referee: James Child (England)