THERE was only one game to take place at the weekend for Bradford Bulldogs – but it was certainly one worth waiting for.
An 8-0 win over local rivals Leeds Junior Knights – the first-ever competitive encounter between the two clubs – was enough to ensure the Under-12 North Division championship for the Bulldogs.
The two teams will meet again at Elland Road this Saturday, with the Bulldogs hoping to maintain their unbeaten regular season record, although second-placed Leeds will be keen to exact some swift revenge, knowing a win will guarantee them the runners-up spot.
The next target for the Bulldogs will be trying to double up and win the Nationals tournament which takes place in Sheffield on the weekend of May 14-15.
Head coach Andy Brown said he was proud of his players’ efforts, not just on Saturday, but throughout the whole campaign.
“It was great to clinch the league title,” he said. “With Leeds missing three players at the Junior Showcase weekend in Sheffield and our captain Will Durgan also at the event, it was difficult before the game to gauge how it might go.
“The players gave their all and controlled what was still a very strong Leeds team. Defensively we were solid and our passing was the best it’s been all season which created a lot of offensive chances.
“In net, Jacob was superb which gave us the opportunity to get new netminder Jack Atkin into the game halfway through. All in all I couldn’t have been more proud of how the whole team have performed.”
Young Kyle Bower proved the star of the show for Andy Brown’s side, scoring four goals, with Billy Simpson (2), Layden Fletcher-Robb and Louis Brook also getting on the scoresheet.
It was Bower who gave the home side an early advantage when he struck twice within 27 seconds in the fourth minute, Brook making it 3-0 at 11.43 before his fellow third liner completed his hat-trick just 46 seconds before the first intermission.
Fletcher-Robb made it 5-0 at 17.55 and only 20 more seconds had elapsed before Simpson weighed in with his first of the afternoon.
Bower struck his fourth at 19.00 before Simpson doubled his tally to round off the scoring at 21.26.
Team manager Lee Farrow said the team had impressed throughout the entire season and fully deserved their title triumph.
“It was a fantastic game and the kids were absolutely buzzing before face off,” said Lee. “They were keen to face their closest rivals, both in terms of league position and geographically.
“Each and every player who has contributed to this league win has been a superstar this year. I think the quality runs through every line and we’re looking forward to the final game of the regular season at Leeds this weekend before the challenge of the Nationals a week later.”