SCUL CAPS IT FOR SAINTS; SUPER Rugby LEAGUE Bradford Bulls 16 St Helens 22 from Odsal.
PAUL SCULTHORPE made a winning return to action last night as Bradford felt the full impact of the St Helens G-force.
The silver-booted Saints talisman made his first appearance since rupturing his Achilles tendon last July as a 20th-minute substitute.
By then two of the visitors' G-men, James Graham and Ade Gardner, had crossed for touchdowns on a raw West Yorkshire night.
And when Lee Gilmour, a former son of Bradford, added the Challenge Cup holders' third try after just 22 minutes, Bradford's victory hopes had all but blown away on the gale.
Steve McNamara's side closed to 16-10 but a Sean Long penalty and 69th-minute Keiron Cunningham touchdown sent them crashing to a second defeat in three games.
Opposite number Daniel Anderson's joy at Sculthorpe's comeback was tempered by losing the cornerstone of his pack, Nick Fozzard. Fozzard suffered a third minute leg injury and took no further part in proceedings.
He now joins Jon Wilkin, Maure Fa'asavalu, Jason Cayless and Chris Flannery on the casualty list.
And with novice Gareth Frodsham almost knocked cold by beefy boy wonder Sam Burgess, 'Scully' got more game time than he imagined.
In fact, the Knowsley Road star played for 60 lung-busting minutes to prove his fitness and his critics wrong.
A feisty game, played before a disappointing crowd of just 10,756, came to life after man of the match Burgess's collision on unsuspecting Frodsham.
Leon Pryce received a threematch ban for his 'ball tampering' incident involving teenager Burgess in last season's Challenge Cup semifinal.
And the former Odsal favourite tangled with the new Bradford idol again as an incident-packed opening period drew to a close.
Burgess's destructive challenge that wiped out 18-year-old rookie sub Frodsham proved the catalyst.
Frodsham, in only his second senior appearance, staggered to the sidelines, unsure whether he was in Yorkshire or Lancashire.
Pryce went to exact revenge. A ticking off from referee Phil Bentham sufficed but the temperature out in the middle had raised numerous notches.
Bradford, already simmering from losing a run of 50-50 calls, used the incident as a catalyst to get back in the game.
Transferring the ball quickly across the pitch, new boy Paul Sykes finally sent in James Evans at the corner.
Paul Deacon couldn't convert but Bulls were back in the hunt.
And it was a measure of atonement for Evans whose failure to field Sean Long's kick after 22 minutes led to Pryce handing on to tryscorer Gilmour.
Long's second goal of the night moved Saints into a commanding 16-0 advantage.
Bradford's revival continued three minutes after the restart. Ex-Quins centre Sykes added a try to his earlier assist to make it just a six point game.
But the pendulum hadn't tipped entirely Bradford's way.
And by the time Sykes crossed again for a converted try with two minutes left, St Helens had secured a valuable away success.
TOUCHDOWN: James Graham goes over for an early Saints try; GOING OVER: Lee Gilmour gets Saints' third try
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Feb 23, 2008|
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