By Henry Woodsford
UCLan disappointingly bowed out of the Northern Conference Plate as they were convincingly beaten by Bradford at the UCLan Sports Arena.
With a place in the quarter-finals at stake for the winners, this was a game the home team were expecting to win and continue their unbeaten start to the season.
The tone of the game was set in the first 2 minutes. Weak UCLan defending combined with Bradford’s brute strength in their pack saw resulted in a try under the posts.
With 15 minutes played Bradford added 2 more tries to build a commanding 26-0 lead. None of Bradford’s tries came from playing expansive, free-flowing rugby; they were down to soft defending and UCLan’s failure to be strong in the tackle.
Despite being slow-starters to games throughout the season, getting anything out of this tie was always going to be a huge task for the home side.
UCLan seemed to wake up with 20 minutes gone but the damage had already been done. The backs gained important yards in attack and the pack began to scrummage better, but UCLan still hadn’t been able to carve out a genuine try scoring opportunity.
Bradford rounded off the half with a fourth try before half-time to make the score 31-0. UCLan knew this game was a lost cause.
Bradford then scored two more tries in a second-half which was played at a much slower pace, as the visitors broke up the play well.
But UCLan did eventually get on the score sheet after a 5 minute spell of pressure. Winger Francis McCartney scored in the corner and another try was added in the games dying embers to spare some blushes.
For UCLan, this was a bad way to end their unbeaten run, but one with plenty of lessons to be learnt. They’re back in league action next week away to Chester 2nds.
UCLan XV: Morgan; Smiles, Leaver, Tolhurst, McCartney; Nelson, Dawe; Graham, Crimmons, Hannon, Matthews, Philpott, Gillen, Thresh, Selby.
Replacements: White, El-Kaddi, Kassachvili.