TWO TRIES from Bradford old boy Jon Magrin helped Dewsbury to victory in their third and final pre-season game (25-12).
After a draw against Batley on Boxing Day and a disappointing defeat at League One side Keighley seven days beforehand, Rams coach Lee Greenwood had said that many players were still to confirm their places in the side which kicks off the Championship against Leigh on January 31.
But after this four-tries-to-two success, he hinted that he is now much closer to inking in the teamsheet as his 20-man squad, without both regular half-backs Paul Sykes and Liam Finn, overcame a youthful, eager but perhaps slightly toothless Bulls outfit.
At the previous Monday’s Championship pre-season launch John Kear, on finding that the league’s main sponsors Betfred were offering 25/1 for a Bulls Grand 2020 Final win, suggested in jest that it might be a “good bet” for someone.
Greenwood could be excused for feeling that Dewsbury, at 66/1, might also be worth a punt, once evergreen veteran Sykes, who will be 39 in August, and Finn, 36, are restored to the attack.
Dewsbury, designated as the home side against their 2020 ground-share partners, threw away an 18-point lead at Keighley but, having carved out a 24-0 advantage on an initially sun-drenched but rapidly cooling afternoon, never seemed likely to make the same mistake two weeks running.
Bradford, occupying the visitors’ changing rooms which will this season become the home side’s changing rooms when the Bulls are in residence (confused yet?), began brightly but faded with the light as Dewsbury took their chances when they happened.
The Bulls made much of the early running with Harry Shackleton almost bursting through before being called back for ‘crossing’.
Davey Dixon nearly went over in the corner at the other end but was adjudged to have a foot in touch.
Brad Gallagher was held up on his back as play switched from end to end, partially due to a glut of 12 penalties in the opening 28 minutes.
The deadlock was finally broken when Frazer Morris took a short pass and crashed over from close range with seven minutes of the half remaining, Will Oakes landing the first of his four conversions.
Magrin then helped double the Rams’ lead when reaching out to score after a high kick came loose deep in Bradford territory.
The Rams extended their lead to 18-0 when Sam Day put a charging Magrin over for his second. And unlike at Cougar Park the previous week, the Rams refused to take their feet off the gas as a Liam Johnson offload put Joe Martin over for their fourth try.
The Bulls hit back to get off the mark when Liam Kirk scored from close range before a Jordan Lilley kick deflected off a Dewsbury man for Adam Rooks to take over and instil a modicum of belief in a comeback.
Rowan Milnes added both conversions but, despite stepping up the pressure, the Bulls were unable to make further inroads and Morgan Punchard made certain of the win with a late drop goal.
Kear’s frustration with the performance was increased by the loss, midway through the second half, of recent signing Sam Barlow with a broken bone in his lower arm.