Dewsbury Rams produced a vastly improved display but it wasn’t enough to prevent a third straight defeat in the Kingstone Press Championship Shield as they were edged out 16-12 by Bradford Bulls last Sunday.
Defeat means the Rams will finish fourth in the Shield group stages and it is now confirmed that they will face a trip to Toulouse in the semi-finals.
Heavy rain and blustery conditions meant it was an error strewn game but it was the Bulls who came out on top to pick up their 10th win of the season.
Bradford opened the scoring after just four minutes when Vila Halafihi stabbed the ball towards the line and full-back James Glover looked to have cleared the danger when he scooped up the ball.
As Glover attempted to run clear of the posts, he lost possession in a tackle and the ball came loose for Cory Aston to gather and dive over for a try which he converted.
It didn’t take long for the Rams to reply with another fortuitous try.
Hooker Dom Speakman produced a neat short kick towards the line and ball struck Liam Kirk’s and popped up for him to regather and score, with Paul Sykes levelling matters with the conversion.
Dewsbury were playing with a strong wind at their backs in the first half and Sykes was finding good range with his long kicks to set up Rams attacks.
Dewsbury piled on the pressure and Speakman moved play left from acting half-back and loose forward Aaron Brown twisted in a tackle and planted the ball down. Sykes converted and the Rams led 12-6 but they were unable to build on that advantage despite the wind at their backs.
Bulls substitute Ross Peltier looked to have hit back when a storming run took him over the line only to lose the ball when attempting to touch down.
Sykes was sin-binned for a challenge on James Bentley as the Rams spent the final 10 minutes of the first half down to 12 men and the Bulls looked to capitalise on the numerical advantage.
Full-back Ethan Ryan was held up over the line and when Bradford attacked again just before the break, they hit back to level.
Glover had initially looked to have cleared the danger when he hacked a dangerous kick dead but referee Nick Bennett had spotted an infringement and brought play back for the penalty.
Scott Moore drove the Bulls towards the posts and Peltier crossed from acting half-back, with Aston converting to level matters.
The second half was equally tight and Gareth Potts almost broke clear but Joe Keyes produced a last gasp tackle that prevented the winger from scoring a certain long range try.
The only touchdown of the second half came after 57 minutes when Lee Smith dodged his way over from acting half-back.
Dewsbury had late chances in a frenetic finale but they were unable to force their way past a solid Bulls defence.