It was a horror start from the home side, as errors with the ball coupled with penalties led to the Bulls dominating the first period of the match. Helped out by a trio of Leeds Rhinos Dual Reg players including Sam Walters, who scored the opening try of the game after less than 5 minutes from a Dec Patton grubber for an early 0-6 lead.
Fax rallied though, and just like he did against the Bulls on Good Friday at Odsal in 2022, captain Brandon Moore snuck over from dummy half to score his first try of the season. Keyes converted to level the game up but back came the Bulls again. Walters turned provider this time as his well-timed pass by the Fax try line found the onrushing Jordan Baldwinson who scored underneath the sticks, Patton converted to re-assert the Bulls advantage.
But ill discipline from the Panthers with ball in hand and giving away multiple infringements led to Patton booting over a penalty to edge the visitors ahead. His boot then providing the grubber kick for a Kieran Gill try which proved to be a vital try right on the halftime hooter. Another Patton conversion put the Bulls up 12-20 at the break.
The rain fell even heavier in the 2nd half contributing to an old fashioned arm wrestle but Fax were too keen and Ben Kavanagh was sinbinned just shy of the hour mark after he was adjudged to have caught Tom Holmes dangerously after he claimed a Joe Keyes kick.
As so often seems to be the case though, the side with 12 men scored next as Keyes’ crossfield kick found Walmsley, who tapped it back inside to the supporting Jake Maizen, who stepped inside to score beside the sticks.
Keyes’ conversion attempt hit the upright and bounced away, more evidence of the very surprising mixed form the Irish International has had off the tee this year and the score remained 16-20.
The Panthers coped brilliantly whilst down to 12 and nearly escaped scot-free but an Adam Tangata forced six again penalty gave the Bulls the platform to work a nice move for Tom Holmes to score unopposed, just as Kavanagh was coming back onto the field. Patton kept up his immaculate form with the boot to give the Bulls a 16-26 lead with 10 minutes remaining.
Woodburn-Hall, Walmsley, Maizen, McComb, Saltonstall, Jouffret, Keyes, Maher, Moore, Murray, Kavanagh, Gee, Tangata
Subs: Inman, Lannon, Calcott, Doro
Tries: Moore (11), Walmsley (30), Maizen (61,75)
Goals: Keyes 3/4
Sin Bin: Kavanagh (58)
Holmes, Blackmore, Arundel, Gill, Roberts, Patton, Lilley, Baldwinson, Flanagan, Walters, Donaldson, Appo, Thompson
Subs: Scurr, Bibby, Wallace, Jowitt
Tries: Walters (4), Baldwinson (25), Gill (39), Holmes (68)
Goals: Patton 4/4
Penalty: Patton 1/1
Match Sponsors: Elite Thermal Insulation
Match Ball Sponsors: Safe Stage Services