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Sunday 16th February 2014, 15:00 - Round:1
|Danny Addy, Jamie Foster, Adrian Purtell,||T||Weller Hauraki, Kirk Dixon, Daryl Clark, Justin Carney, Luke Dorn, Grant Millington,|
Jamie Foster 3,
Kirk Dixon 6,
Attendance: 8,214 Official: R Hicks Venue: Provident Stadium, Odsal
Kirk Dixon passed the 1000-point mark for Castleford as the Tigers came from behind to open their Super League XIX campaign with a hard-fought 36-18 victory at Odsal which capped a miserable week for Bradford Bulls.
But the Tigers, who thumped the same opposition on the same Odsal stage 66-10 in a pre-season friendly just 14 days beforehand, were made to work much harder on this occasion.
Cash-strapped and points-deduction-threatened Bradford, who on the eve of the new season suffered the shock walk-out of star players Garreth Carvell to Hull FC and Jarrod Sammut to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, led three times and until 25 minutes from the end.
However, the Tigers finished the stronger to run in six tries in all with Dixon adding six goals from seven attempts.
The Bulls, giving debuts to winter acquisitions Lee Gaskell, Adam Henry and midweek loan signing Danny Bridge, welcomed back full-back Brett Kearney – who missed all the pre-season games recovering from an operation to solve a shoulder problem.
Cas gave full debuts to no fewer than six close-season signings including second stints at Wheldon Road for former Bradford captain Andy Lynch and Luke Dorn.
Helped on by an early penalty, Bradford struck first with less than four minutes on the clock when Luke Gale and Gaskell put Danny Addy through a hole and Jamie Foster converted.
The Bulls could have increased their lead shortly afterwards but did not have the composure to finish off a rousing 50-metre break after Adrian Purtell had intercepted a Liam Finn pass.
Elliot Kear stopped rampaging Tigers hooker Daryl Clark with a superb last-gasp tackle and the hosts then had to weather a couple of successive sets deep in their own territory before Weller Hauraki strolled through some less convincing tackling to score.
Dixon, who amassed 30 points during the pre-season friendly, converted to leave the sides level at the break.
If points had been hard to come by before the interval, a glut arrived just after as there were three tries in the opening seven minutes.
Bradford went ahead again as Gale stabbed a grubber kick into the corner which stood up nicely for Foster to grab before reaching out to score.
But Cas immediately regained possession through a loose Manase Manuakafoa offload just after the restart and they capitalised when Dixon crossed in the corner then converted his own score from the touchline to square things up once more.
Equally as rapidly the Bulls were ahead again as Purtell rose to claim and ground a perfectly weighted Gale cross-kick at the other end and Foster added his third goal.
The Tigers did not trail for long as Finn picked up a Dixon kick following a fine right-flank move and sent Clark racing over for a try.
Dixon again converted to bring up the winger's 1000th point since joining the Tigers in 2007 as well as tying the scores once more.
Amazingly, having already kicked three good conversions from out wide, Dixon then missed a straightforward penalty for interference almost in front of the posts just after the hour mark.
Bradford's let-off was shortlived as Justin Carney claimed a high kick from Finn and needed only to fall across the line to score and put Cas in front for the first time just three minutes later.
Kear gave the Bulls one late glimmer of hope when racing the length of the field to touch down, only to be called back by referee Robert Hicks for a forward pass.
Dorn then crossed to virtually seal the win seven minutes from time, Grant Millington adding another try on the final play, with Dixon finishing with six goals to take his match tally to 16 points.
TA: Try assists
MT: Marker tackles
MI: Missed tackles
TB: Tackle busts
AT: Attacking kicks
AG: Av gain
CB: Clean break
DR: Run from dummy half
FT: Forty twenty
MG: Missed goals