Monaghan hat-trick buries Bulls
Warrington overturn deficit to reach Challenge Cup quarter-finals
Last Updated: 28/04/12 7:39pm
Warrington Wolves struck a purple patch either side of half-time to secure a safe passage into the quarter-finals of the Carnegie Challenge Cup with a 32-16 victory over Bradford Bulls.
The Bulls were clinging to a 6-4 lead four minutes before half-time but the Wolves, back-to-back Wembley winners in 2009 and 2010, found their scoring touch to run in four tries in 14 minutes and establish a 26-6 lead.
Australian winger Joel Monaghan scored two of them on his way to completing a hat-trick to settle the fifth-round tie.
Bradford finished a well-beaten side, but they had the better of the first half, with former London Broncos half-back Luke Gale having a big influence on his return from two months out with an ankle injury.
Centre Adrian Purtell, who was ruled out with a hamstring injury earlier in the week but reinstated in the team on the morning of the match after making a rapid recovery, was denied an early try when video referee Steve Ganson ruled a knock-on over the line.
But he made amends on 12 minutes when picking up a loose ball to race over from 20 metres out for the opening score following an audacious ball steal by co-centre Keith Lulia.
Gale added the difficult conversion to give the Bulls a deserved 6-0 lead, but Warrington gradually clawed their way into the game, aided by a succession of penalties, and put the visitors' line under increasing pressure.
They pulled a try back through Monaghan after 22 minutes, although Lee Briers' final pass looked suspiciously forward, and England second rower Ben Westwood would have added a second but, instead of touching down, he placed the ball on the foot of defender Jamie Langley.
Just when it seemed Bradford might hang on to their lead until the break, the Wolves struck two ultimately decisive blows in the last four minutes of the half.
Full-back Brett Hodgson caught the Bradford defence flat-footed after scooping up a stray pass to cross for a try and, in the last action of the half, winger Chris Riley swooped on a fumble by Bulls prop Bryn Hargreaves to sprint 50 metres for a gift score.
Instead of leading 6-4, the Yorkshiremen suddenly found themselves trailing 16-6 after both conversions were landed by Hodgson, and the game slipped beyond them when they conceded two further tries within 10 minutes of the re-start.
Monaghan grabbed his second, touching down Hodgson's grubber kick, and former Bradford centre Ryan Atkins scored straight from a scrum, awarded after a knock-on by prop Tom Burgess.
Hodgson kicked his third goal to make it 26-6, but the Bulls responded with the best try of the match from Lulia, who finished off a six-man handling move.
Bradford continued to play with spirit and might have got back into contention had front rowers Heath L'Estrange and Craig Kopczak been able to ground the ball but both were held up over the line.
Briers then regathered his own kick but his try was disallowed for a knock-on by Monaghan as the game petered out towards an inevitable conclusion.
The Wolves were reduced to 12 men on 65 minutes when prop Chris Hill was sin-binned for interference, just moments after referee James Child had issued a general warning to the home side, and the Bulls took advantage by scoring a try through French forward Oliver Elima.
Gale kicked his second goal but Warrington had the final say when Monaghan crossed at the corner a minute from the end to complete his hat-trick, with Hodgson taking his goal tally to four from seven attempts.
Ladbrokes Challenge Cup