University of Manchester Men's Rugby League first team dispatched Bradford with a ruthless and belligerent display at the Armitage on Wednesday.
The current champions of the Northern Rugby League Shield underlined their credentials as one of the favourites to go all the way this year by showing that size does not always matter. Having concentrated on an expansive and pacey game-plan during the week, Coach Neil Blackburn unleashed a fired up team with an expansive strategy.
The first ten minutes actually saw the expansive game-plan being thrown out of the window as the forwards, led by Chris Bower, smashed unscrupulously into the Bradford defence and made good ground with low risk rugby.
In defence, the Bradford team showed a depraved level of non creativity and to their surprise, found themselves going backwards in the tackle, as Manchester’s defensive line rushed up and broke them down with some immense hits.
With the opening credits going to Manchester, Bradford found a piece of luck from a Manchester kick and scored a try from deep within their own half.
Without panicking, Manchester found another gear and pulled Bradford around the pitch, resulting in a very well earned try after 15 minutes. As the Bradford team tried to regroup, Manchester kept the relentless pace and power levels up and continued to pump away at the Bradford defensive line, scoring a further two tries on the half hour mark.
Bradford tried in vain to gain the upper hand but fitness levels held them back and by half time, they had been reduced to gasping elephants in the dry season whilst Manchester scored another try, threatening a rout.
Bradford came out fired up after the second half and managed to gain a foothold on the game by taking advantage of a poor 20 minute spell from Manchester. With ball going to ground and passes being incomplete, the home side conceded two tries to bring Bradford within touching distance of the lead. Chris Bates managed to regain parity for Manchester by scoring his third try having realising the game was very much for the losing.
Bradford, to their credit, did well to contain a Manchester side who were desperate to score more tries, with only some very fine defending keeping Manchester at bay. With time running out for Bradford, Manchester continued to control the game and maintained their high energy levels to ensure that they would progress through to the next round of the cup. Manchester won the tie comprehensively 40-26.
Captain Chris Bower said: “Im really pleased for the boys. We were pretty apprehensive before this game because we knew we were up against a very physical team who have won some huge games this season. The forwards fronted up and did better than I expected in contact considering we were so much smaller. We’ve got a few injuries from this game but it was to be expected in a clash like this.”
Manchester Men's Rugby League Club would like to thank Walkabout for their continued support of the club.