Bradford Bulls 27 Halifax Panthers 26 - Lilley drop goal breaks Halifax hearts
Halifax were narrowly beaten at the Tetley’s stadium, after squandering a 14-point advantage to a late Jordan Lilley drop goal.
The game started in breathless fashion, with a few huge hits early on as the two local rivals went toe to toe.
A series of early penalties for Halifax resulted in an early Connor Robinson two pointer, as they settled into an early rhythm.
From the kick-off, an excellent kick from Liam Harris was knocked on by the Bulls’ defence, with James Saltonstall going over in the corner. Robinson added the extras and another penalty, as Halifax opened up an 8-0 lead.
Bradford lost Adam Rooks for a high tackle, as they desperately tried to stem the Panthers’ attack. Simon Grix then surged through from full-back, selling the dummy and strolling over for the Panthers’ second, converted try.
At 14-0, the Bradford comeback began, with Lilley scampering over in the corner to make the score 14-6.
Saltonstall then went from hero to villain as he tripped a runner in midfield, reducing the Panthers to 12 for 10 minutes. The shorthanded Panthers were then on the back foot, as the Bulls took full advantage.
The instrumental Danny Brough fed Dan Fleming at a gallop, who held off two defenders to charge over the line.
With five minutes until half-time, a Brough conversion reduced the margin to 14-12.
Further drama occurred before half-time, with Gadwin Springer and tryscorer Fleming both sent to the bin following a scuffle.
At the start of the second half, an early Brough penalty brought the scores level, before a 60-metre run from Brandon Pickersgill completed a remarkable turnaround to give the Bulls the lead.
The Panthers struggled to gain any momentum as Bradford began to dominate, with Lilley feeding Foggin-Johnson for a 24-14 lead.
The Panthers registered their first points of the second half as they responded once more, Robinson reversing the pass as Springer ran through the Bulls’ line to score.
Halifax seized the advantage as the momentum swung again, with Robinson’s kick not dealt with, and Kevin Larroyer stealing over the whitewash.
Connor Robinson kicked the crucial conversion, making it 26-24 to the Panthers with the game on a knife edge.
A Brough penalty then levelled the scores, making it 26 apiece. And, with time running out, tryscorer Lilley kicked a drop goal for the decisive one-pointer, giving the Bulls the narrowest of derby wins.