Two last minute penalties told the story for Dewsbury on a swelteringly hot day in Bradford as the Rams battled to an historic 14-16 victory in new Bulls coach Rohan Smith’s first home game.
The Rams had fought admirably to hold onto an unlikely first half lead, when with under a minute remaining Nathan Conroy was sin binned for a high tackle, awarding the Bulls a penalty directly infront of the posts. Danny Addy was unable to miss and equalised for Bradford.
Broken hearted and desperate to hold onto at least a draw, the Rams attempted to run down the remaining seconds when they were gifted a penalty on the hooter.
Paul Sykes lined up to take the kick from 39 metres out, surrounded by the roar of the Bulls support and faced with the full Bradford team standing infront of him. Undeterred the captain kicked it straight between the posts to regain their lead and claim an emphatic victory.
The Rams had started the match as the brightest of the two with the Bulls struggling to make it past the halfway line.
Paul Sykes had the Rams best chance early on when Josh Guzdek drove the side upfield. Dalton Grant reached the try line but did not quite go over it, Rams then held possession as Sykes laid the grubber into the goal area, but no one was able to get onto the end of it.
The Rams were desperate to make their early dominance pay, once again winning the ball back on the halfway line and charging upfield. They got within inches of the try line before seeing tom Orbison superbly snatch the ball back for the Bulls.
Smith’s new Bradford side had been rattled and Sykes drove down the right hand side, determined to find a way past a stubborn Bulls defence. Running out of pitch, the captain threw it out of the back of his hand to Dale Morton, who was unable touch down inside the line, leaving the Rams still in search of an opener.
The breakthrough finally came when Luke Adamson won a penalty 10 metres out. Shane Grady took the ball on and barged his way through the Bulls defence from close range to finally give the Rams the lead. Sykes making good on the conversion.
The try forced the Bulls into an instant recovery, Jay Pitt taking the ball from Danny Williams long-kick, he slickly turned the Rams defence and found a way across the line to touch down. Danny Addy converting the resulting kick.
The bulls persisted with their kicking game, Oscar Thomas the next to try a high-kick that almost found its way through, the Rams defence remained strong and won possession back, determined not to completely undo their impressive start.
They continued in this vein as Scott Hale raced away in search of the lead, offloading to Guzdek who needed no invitation to run in unchallenged and put the Rams back infront, Sykes converting once again.
The Rams were able to extend their lead on the brink of halftime when a scuffle on the floor gave Dewsbury a penalty within kicking distance, Sykes hitting it perfectly to give the Rams an eight-point lead.
It was an equally determined start to the second half for the Rams as they continued to push the Bulls. Some smart interplay was almost finished off by Jason Crookes, who could not quite make the final yards. Sykes then did get himself over the line but was unable touch down.
The Bulls were then able to regain the two points they lost at the death of the first half when Luke Adamson was penalised for a high tackle on Adam O’Brien. Addy successfully converting the penalty.
Defending for their lives, the Rams were pegged back inside their own 10 metre line and desperately trying to hold on to their slender lead. But one to many dangerous tackles saw them given a team warning, Epalahame Lauaki and O’Brien both coming within inches of the try line.
Holding on once more, the Rams denied Bradford of a certain try, Omari Caro was in yards of space but Dewsbury somehow reached him and scrambled the ball out of touch.
The resulting attack proved Dewsbury’s breaking point, O’Brien drove through a series of tackles to touch down from close range, the Rams lead only held by Addy’s failure to convert.
With just 15 minutes remaining the Rams remained pegged back in their own half, frantically defending what was left of their lead, eventually being relieved of the pressure by a penalty on their 40 metre line.
With the game petering out and the Bulls attempts proving fruitless, Dewsbury were finally able to hold onto possession in the Bradford half, the defence needing to withstand just one more Bradford attack to claim victory.
Despite a last minute penalty goal from Addy, Dewsbury were able to steal victory back with a penalty of their own, Paul Sykes impressively kicking from distance.