The magic of the Challenge Cup was very much alive when National Conference Premier division amateur side, Underbank Rangers from Huddersfield, were drawn away at Bradford Bulls.
Windy conditions as the teams reached the playing surface could have acted as a leveller, but the odds and the expectation were heavily with the Bulls, as they fielded a full strength squad, giving the visitors full respect.
This was a potential banana skin for the Bulls, and coach John Kear was determined that they wouldn’t slip on it.
There was very little in the opening exchanges as the two sides battled the elements. Underbank were giving as good as they were getting and the frustration was becoming obvious for the Bulls players and supporters.
The Bulls relief was evident when they opened the scoring on eighteen minutes with Adam Rooks dribbling the ball forward and picking it up to hurdle the last Underbank defender to score. Rowan Milnes added the conversion from in front of the uprights for a 6-0 lead.
Sam Hallas and George Flanagan combined inside the Underbank twenty for the second Bulls try as the substitute showed fresh legs in heavy conditions. Milnes was again accurate with the boot for 12-0 with ten minutes of the half remaining.
Five minutes from the interval Levy Nzoungou spotted a gap in the Rangers defence and exploited it fully as he went twenty metres to score under the crossbar. Milnes added the conversion and although the underdogs would have the wind at their back in the second half, they had a mountain to climb with an eighteen point deficit.
The opening thirty minutes of the second half saw the Underbank line under seige as the Bulls threw everything that they had at them. As the half wore on the visitors started using the wind and making some ground but the Bulls defence held firm.
The sides were cancelling each other out in testing conditions until a couple of minutes from the final hooter when Ross Oakes was provider with an inside ball to Milnes for a walk in try. The Bulls half back was unable to convert his own try but with a 22-0 win their place in the fifth round draw was secured.
Both sides found it hard going in difficult conditions. The pitch was a quagmire by the final hooter and both sets of players resembling mudmen. Gutsy Underbank held the home side out and frustrated for long periods but the Bulls defence in shutting out the amateurs must also be applauded.
Bulls: Pickersgill, Foggin-Johnston, Brown, Oakes, Dawson-Jones, Milnes (T, 3G), Lilley, Kirk, Doyle, Crossley, Rooks (T), Gallagher, Hallas. Subs: Scurr, Waite-Pullan, Flanagan (T), Nzoungou (T).
Rangers: Restall, Stringer J, Garside, Brown, Allette, Hirst, Pogson, Williams, Maneely, Boothroyd, Chappell, Newton, Stringer T. Subs: Booth, Rochford, Moorhouse, Holmes.
Referee: Cameron Worsley.