Not much joy here for Beverley. This was not one of their better days and they could have little complaint at the result. It was an error-strewn affair from start to finish, full of penalties – mostly against Beverley – and in the end either side could have won it. In some mitigation Beverley were missing some of their key players but this was a very low key performance and they never really looked like scoring a try from open play. Only in the last five minutes did they show any real urgency in attack but by then it was too late.
They started well enough and had several good chances in the first ten minutes. But the penalty count against them quickly began to mount and Bradford gradually got into the game. Phil Duboulay had narrowly missed with an early penalty attempt before Bradford scrum half Matt Booth responded with three for the home side to put them 9-0 up after twenty minutes.
For the last quarter of an hour of the first half Beverley enjoyed their best spell of the match. They scored their only try when the pack drove over from a penalty scrum with Isaac Keighley getting the touchdown and Duboulay adding the conversion. Two Duboulay penalties quickly followed and at the interval Beverley had turned it round to lead 13-9.
That was as good as it got. Within five minutes of the restart they were down to fourteen men with winger Steve Payne yellow carded for foul play. They had plenty of the game but could make nothing of it and there was little sign of any constructive back play. The forwards could not be faulted for lack of endeavour but today they could make little headway. Bradford like Beverley were making plenty of errors but there was more thrust about their running and they were making better use of the ball. Beverley were regularly squandering their own possession with simple handling errors, excessive kicking, or else conceding penalties.
There was some determined running by Jack Foster on the wing and by Luke Hazell from full back while Jacob Holmes, standing in for Rob Smith at scrum half, showed some lively touches. Young George Bennett-Teare made an encouraging debut at open side flanker putting himself about to good effect and Joe Slater tackled strongly but there was not much else.
Bradford looked the most likely scorers and with the game going into its last quarter they recaptured the lead when their pack drove over from a penalty line-out for a converted try which made it 16-13. Luckily for Beverley Bradford infringed direct from the restart and it was all square again at 16-16 with Duboulay slotting the penalty.
With time running out and in the gathering gloom of a raw west Yorkshire afternoon a draw or a clinching penalty from either side looked the likely outcome. Beverley had a lucky escape when backchat to the referee gave Booth a kickable opportunity to win it for Bradford but his kick went narrowly wide. But Bradford still had the last word. With five minutes left some woeful tackling let them into the Beverley 22 and substitute wing Dan Scarborough won a kick and chase to the line to touch down for a winning score.
For the last five minutes Beverley threw everything into retrieving the situation and for the first time all afternoon we saw some real attacking urgency. Duboulay made a couple of nice breaks and they got close but in the end it all petered out with yet another penalty being conceded. Bradford put the ball into touch and that was that. All in all it was a disappointing day for Beverley with defeat in a fixture they might have looked to win comfortably, and on another day probably would. Still, this was only their third defeat of the season and an occasional off-day is not the end of the world. All the same they will probably be relieved when the players missing today are back.