Super League: Catalan Dragons thrash Bradford Bulls in France
By Rob Lancaster. Last Updated: 24/05/14 5:36pm
Catalan Dragons pushed themselves into Super League's top eight - for 24 hours at least - with a 46-4 thrashing of Bradford at Stade Gilbert Brutus.
The French side gained a modicum of revenge for their Tetley's Challenge Cup exit at the hands of the same opponents, running in eight tries with Thomas Bosc converting all-but one of them.
The impressive Morgan Escare began the scoring inside 40 seconds and added another at the start of the second half to take his tally for the season to 13.
Former Bull Elliott Whitehead also touched down during an opening quarter that the saw the Dragons run hot against a sieve-like Bradford defence that came mightily close to shipping a half-century of points for a third successive outing.
Zeb Taia's offload back inside set up the early try for Escare as the full-back easily went around opposite number Lee Gaskell, who was then involved in a mix-up with Jamie Foster for the second Dragons try soon after.
The pair became confused over who exactly was going to deal with Leon Pryce's bomb, with neither taking control. Their dallying allowed the ball to bounce, with second rower Whitehead rushing in to gratefully accept the opportunity.
As if that wasn't bad enough for Bradford, the re-start saw them allow Michael Oldfield to break free and ghost past a horribly exposed Gaskell, who must have felt like King Canute trying in vain to turn back the tide. Not even the presence of a dog on the field before Bosc could take his conversion attempt could raise a smile amongst the visiting players behind the uprights.
They did at least pose a threat as the first half wore on, Jordan Baldwinson twice going close on debut while a succession of drop-outs put some pressure on.
Yet for all their huffing and puffing the Bulls were unable to find a way through, and the second half started in similar fashion to the first when Escare, who had earlier taken a hit from Manase Manuokafoa that resulted in the prop being placed on report, glided over to complete his brace.
Pryce set up Mickael Simon to cross underneath the uprights before Bradford managed to finally get off the mark in the 52nd minute, Foster diving over in the left corner for a try he failed to convert.
Still, the Dragons continued to be ruthless through to the final hooter, crossing three more times to do further damage to their rivals' points difference.
Daryl Millard showed superb footwork to collect Jean-Phillippe Baile's kick to the left, the centre tip-toeing next to the whitewash to stay in play before planting the ball down with his left hand.
Pryce breached a tired Bradford line to get a score his personal performance deserved, as too did Taia when he was allowed to pluck Bosc's kick out of the air under no pressure whatsoever.
Les Catalans - who could slip back out of the play-off places if Hull KR defeat London Broncos on Sunday - would have hit the 50-point mark had Jeff Lima not bounced the ball in his attempts to ground next to the posts. It was a small crumb of comfort on another difficult day in another tough year for Bradford.