Opposition Preview: Bradford Bulls

Derby rivalries are reignited on Sunday afternoon as the Rhinos look to continue their positive pre-season form against Betfred Championship opponents Bradford Bulls at Odsal, kick off 3pm.

Richard Agar’s side snatched a 28-22 result against Featherstone Rovers last Sunday to win their second warm up match of pre-season, while John Kear’s Bulls overturned their defeat to Batley Bulldogs with a resounding win over Hull FC last weekend.

To buy tickets for Sunday’s game, CLICK HERE or phone 0333 323 5075 and select option 1.


2021 Overview

An inconsistent season for Bradford Bulls ended in play off heart-break for John Kear’s side.

A slow start to the season saw Bradford lose 50-12 to Sheffield Eagles at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium before one point wins over Halifax in round two and Swinton Lions in round five helped Kear’s side up the table. A strong 33-8 win over promotion rivals London Broncos kickstarted the Bulls into gear as they went on to beat York and Newcastle convincingly, but they couldn’t touch Featherstone at the Millennium Stadium as Rovers won 44-0.

Nevertheless, after wins over Oldham and Batley got them back to winning ways, it was a much closer affair between the Bulls and Rovers at Odsal as the visitors secured a 36-30 win, thanks to a late try from Dane Chisholm. With the Play Offs approaching, Bradford won half of their six remaining matches before the end of the season to put them fifth in the final league standings.

A clash with Batley in the first round of the play offs saw the Bulldogs dispose of the Bulls 23-10, thanks to a try from Elliot Hall in the final ten minutes. The Bulldogs ran into a 16-0 lead as the hill played to their advantage but Jordan Lilley and Joe Brown scored second half tries to get the Bulls back in it. Hall’s try and a drop goal from Tom Gilmore proved the deciding factor though as the Bulls dropped out of the promotion race.

Off Season Roundup

The Bulls are expected to be strong contenders in 2022 and have recruited from around the Championship to bolster their chances.

Dec Patton is a major arrival from Salford Red Devils, as he brings six years of Super League experience with him, plus Sam Scott and Jordan Baldwinson, who returns back to club, join from rivals York City Knights. Newcastle winger Kieran Gill joins up with former Sheffield outside back Ryan Millar in a new look right edge, and academy talents Samy Kibula (Warrington and Wigan), AJ Wallace (Leeds Rhinos) and Eldon Myers (Hull FC) also bolster Kear’s squad further.

So far in pre season, the Bulls have been edged out by Batley Bulldogs and put in a convincing performance against Hull FC. Against the Bulldogs, the Bulls were outscored five tries to four in a thriller that saw new signing Sam Scott, Steve Crossley, Elliot Kear and Dan Fleming score in the 28-22 defeat.

Last week saw Bradford take on a young Hull FC side and Kear’s men were ruthless in their seven try performance. David Foggin-Johnston headlined the try scorers with his double and there was also a try for former Rhinos Academy player Coby Nichol.

2022 Squad

1. Elliot Kear

2. Matty Dawson-Jones

3. Rhys Evans

4. Kieran Gill*

5. Ryan Millar*

6. Dec Patton*

7. Jordan Lilley

8. Anthony Walker

9. Thomas Doyle

10. Steve Crossley

11. Aaron Murphy

12. Sam Scott*

13. Ben Evans

*New for 2022

14. George Flanagan

15. Jordan Baldwinson*

16. Ebon Scurr

17. Brad England

18. Samy Kibula*

19. David Foggin-Johnston

20. Billy Jowitt

21. Elliot Hall*

22. Joe Burton

23. Bradley Ho

24. AJ Wallace*

27. Eldon Myers*

28. Dan Fleming

Bradford’s Pre Season Fixtures:

Sunday 9th January – Bradford 22 Batley Bulldogs 28

Sunday 16th January – Bradford 42 Hull FC 18

Sunday 23th January – Bradford v Leeds (KO 3pm)

Saturday 12th February – Bradford v Midlands Hurricanes (KO 2pm)


Key Players

Dec Patton

Age: 26

Position: Half Back

Bio: After a season with Salford Red Devils, half back Dec Patton joins the Bulls for 2022, after the retirement of Danny Brough.

A product of Warrington’s Academy, Patton played over 100 games for the Wolves, including two Grand Finals and two Challenge Cup finals. He was a part of the side that beat St Helens 18-4 in the 2019 Cup final and kicked a goal in the game. He transferred to Salford in 2021 but only managed eight games throughout the season before signing with Bradford on a one year deal.

Kieran Gill

Age: 26

Position: Centre/Wing

Bio: Former Castleford Academy player Kieran Gill is one of eight new signings for Bradford in 2022.

The winger scored four tries in four games for the Tigers but spent most of his time on loan with Oxford and Oldham between 2016 and 2018. A move north to Newcastle saw Gill click and in 2019, he recorded 28 tries in 23 games to aid Thunder to a third place finish. He moved to Kingston Park permanently in 2020 but played limited games due to Covid.


The Coach

Bradford head coach John Kear enters his 30th season of coaching in 2022 with big plans for the Bulls.

After coming through Castleford’s youth system and enjoying a ten year spell playing for his hometown club, Kear took up the role of conditioner and reserves coach at the Tigers following his retirement. He made his first steps into a head coaching job in 1992 for Bramley, before taking a step back to be a part of the player performance department at the RFL, but he was back in coaching in 1995 with Paris St Germain.

A move to Sheffield Eagles proved one of Kear’s most defining moments in the sport as over the three years he was at the club, he guided them to a shock Challenge Cup Final win over Wigan (the result is highly regarded as one of the biggest shocks in Cup Final history). Following a year with Huddersfield-Sheffield Giants, he joined the Warriors as an assistant coach but the opportunity to take over at Hull FC proved too enticing and Kear was back at the helm of a Super League club for the 2005 season. In his first season, more Challenge Cup triumph came his way as a one point win over Leeds at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium saw Kear lift the Cup once again.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com – 21/03/2021 – Rugby League – Betfred Challenge Cup Round 1 – Featherstone Rovers v Bradford Bulls – Millenium Stadium, Featherstone, England – Bradford coach John Kear.

Between 2006 and 2011, Kear swapped Hull for Wakefield and guided the club to their best finish in 2009 (fifth) and a Play Off clash with Catalans Dragon, which they lost 25-16. As the club fell to thirteenth in 2011, the coach left for Championship side Batley, where he spent the next five years.

Following the Bulls’ relegation in 2017, Kear stepped in to change the club’s fortunes. Instant promotion was achieved within a year but another drive for promotion to Super League in 2019 was just out of reach.

Kear’s coaching record also extends internationally as he has led France and England in the early 2000s, notably taking England to the semi finals of the 2000 World Cup. He currently holds the head coaching role for Wales.


Pre Season Record

Despite the teams competing in different divisions, the famous derby has continued in a number of pre-season clashes in recent years.

The most recent warm up game between the two clubs came in 2020 when an unforgettable night saw former Rhinos and Bradford stars return to the field in support of Jamie Jones Buchanan, who was celebrating his testimonial, and Rob Burrow following his diagnosis with MND. The Rhinos won the game 34-10 thanks to 18 points from Rhyse Martin, plus there were further tries for Richie Myler, Callum McLelland, Liam Sutcliffe and Brad Dwyer.

Multiple testimonial games have also been played against the Bulls. In 2013, Danny McGuire scored a late try in his own testimonial match to get the Rhinos a 24 all draw with Bradford and Carl Ablett also celebrated his testimonial in 2016 with a 26-12 win for Leeds.

It was fitting that former Leeds and Bradford prop Jamie Peacock marked his testimonial with a game between the two clubs. Prior to the Rhinos’ treble success that season, a record crowd turned out to watch Leeds claim a 34-14 win, thanks to tries McGuire and Jones-Buchanan and two tries apiece for Kallum Watkins and Joel Moon.

Previous friendly meetings between Leeds and Bradford

Leeds Rhinos 34 Bradford Bulls 10 (Jamie Jones-Buchanan + Rob Burrow match, 12/01/2020)

Leeds Rhinos 26 Bradford Bulls 12 (Carl Ablett’s Testimonial, 24/01/2016)

Leeds Rhinos 34 Bradford Bulls 14 (Jamie Peacock’s Testimonial, 25/01/2015)

Leeds Rhinos 24 Bradford Bulls 24 (Danny McGuire’s Testimonial, 20/01/2013)


More Information

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 01/09/2019 – Rugby League – Betfred Championship – Bradford Bulls v Sheffield Eagles – Odsal Stadium, Bradford, England – A general view during the last game to be played at Odsal Stadium.

Tickets for the match can be purchased via Bradford’s website www.bradfordbulls.co.uk or by phone 0333 323 5075 and selecting option 1.

Advance Ticket Prices:   

Tickets allow access into all standing areas of the stadium

  • Adults- £10
  • Juniors (aged 17 and under) – Free

NB There are no concession prices for this game

Tickets will also be available on matchday however, prices for adults will increase to £20.

Venue: Odsal Stadium, Stadium Road, Bradford, BD6 1BS

Ambulant Disabled and Wheelchair Tickets: These are available to purchase through Bradford Bulls and are charged at the adult price.

Car Parking: Car Parking is available at the ground and is charged at £5 per car.

Official Coach Travel:

Leeds Rhinos will not be running official travel for this fixture.

Bradford’s details are:

Ground Address – Odsal Stadium, Stadium Road, Bradford, BD6 1BS

Website – www.bradfordbulls.co.uk

Ticket Hotline Number – 0333 323 5075 and select option 1.

Car Parking – Car Parking is available at the ground and is charged at £5 per car.