1st-place Wolfpack undefeated in 7 after beating Bulls
Toronto demonstrated balanced attack and scored 22 points in 2nd half
When the Toronto Wolfpack ran into a stubborn Bradford Bulls side Saturday, head coach Brian McDermott welcomed the challenge.
Toronto (12-1-0) scored 22 second-half points en route to a 36-16 victory that extended the Wolfpack's winning streak to seven and maintained a four-point lead atop the second-tier Betfred Championship rugby league standings.
"Overall we got tested there," McDermott said. "And my job is to get the team promoted and I do know down the line, at some stage, there's going to come a game where things aren't just going our way and we've got to find an answer.
"So I liked the fact that there were a couple of moments in that game that didn't go our way and we toughed it out."
WATCH | Wolfpack score their 3rd try in 10 minutes:
The Wolfpack (12-1-0) are now riding a seven-game win streak and remain atop the second-tier Championship standings with a four-point lead over Toulouse, the lone team to beat Toronto this season. Toulouse blanked Dewsbury 38-0 earlier in the day.
It was a meeting of two in-form teams with Bradford, on its first visit to Toronto, showing off some stiff defence before the Wolfpack imposed their will in the second half to put the game away.
Bradford (8-5-0) had won seven straight in all competitions prior to running into Wolfpack, whom Bulls coach John Kear labelled a "Super League team in disguise."
The visitors arrived with several hundred travelling fans in tow.
"I just knew they were coming to get a result," said McDermott, a former Bradford player. "They weren't coming over to experience Toronto and just have a dig, if you like. They wanted to win.
Nick Rawsthorne scored two tries and Adam Sidlow, Ricky Leutele, Chase Stanley, Gareth O'Brien and Liam Kay added singles for Toronto, which led 14-12 at the half. O'Brien kicked four conversions.
Ross Peltier, Rowan Milnes and Dalton Grant scored tries for Bradford. Elliott Minchella booted two conversions.
An announced crowd of 8,363 took part in Ladies Day at Lamport Stadium. Last Sunday, the stadium saw a Championship attendance of 9,562 for Toronto's home opener following an extended stay in the U.K.
After a cool, wet morning on Saturday, the skies cleared prior to kickoff and the sun made an appearance in the second half.
Toronto threatened early but the Bradford defence was up to the task, bundling Stanley in to touch near the goal-line and then holding Rawsthorne up when he crossed it. Andrew Dixon had a clear view of goal in the eighth minute but slipped just metres away.
WATCH | The full Toronto Wolfpack vs. Bradford Bulls match:
The Wolfpack crossed the goal-line twice early in the second half but Bradford defenders held up the Toronto players both times. Joe Mellor, returning from injury, also came close to touching down a grubber kick.
Toronto finally broke through the Bulls defence in the 56th minute, the first of three tries in a 10-minute span. O'Brien drew an ovation after his 66th-minute try when his successful conversion hit a streetcar passing by on King Street.
Bradford finally stopped the run with a 71st-minute try by Grant before Kay went over in the 80th minute for the 148th try of his career.
"Bradford are a tough team," said Kay. "We knew they weren't going to go away."
Saturday marked Kay's first appearance since breaking three bones in his left foot and tearing ankle ligaments in a game against Halifax last August.
"A lot of hard work. Nine months of solid rehab and stuff," Kay said of the comeback.
The transatlantic team flew back to England after the game with time to recuperate before a May 18 date with second-place Toulouse, the only team to beat the Wolfpack this season. The neutral site game in Blackpool, England, is part of rugby league's Summer Bash promotion.
Toronto can use the time to heal, with Matty Russell, Blake Wallace, Gary Wheeler, Greg Worthington, Gadwin Springer, Adam Higson and Hakim Miloudi among the walking wounded.
Lamport will host a Major League Rugby game for the first time Sunday when the Toronto Arrows (6-5-0) entertain the San Diego Legion (9-2-1) in a pro rugby union contest. The expansion Arrows played their three previous home games at York Alumni Stadium.