Thunder set for Bradford visit

Bradford Bulls provide the headline attraction for this weekend’s Magic Night Out at Kingston Park Stadium, as Newcastle Thunder kick off rugby league’s big weekend in the North East with their now traditional League 1 curtain raiser.

Following three years of hosting York City Knights at their biggest game of the season, the RFL fixture computer has thrown up a change of opposition in the shape of the Bulls, with the refresh seeing the match well on course to becoming Thunder’s biggest ever crowd at the ground.

Having entered Betfred League 1 for the first time following relegation from the Championship in 2017, the Bulls have been proving to be, as expected, one of the form teams in the division.

Under the stewardship of John Kear, Bradford sit atop of the League 1 table following nine games having taken victory in all but one of their games to date.

That loss came away to Workington Town in round six, though the stats don’t paint the full picture of how competitive that Bradford have found the tournament, with that lesson being demonstrated in the season’s first match.

Away to York City Knights, the Bulls were very nearly beaten by their fellow table toppers and needed an after the hooter penalty from Joe Keyes to seal an epic encounter and start their campaign off with two points on the board.

Following that early scare, the Bulls were able to put together a decent run of results with wins over Keighley, Hunslet and Oldham added before the loss in Cumbria before bouncing back from that arguably shock reverse with a 52-6 hammering of Coventry Bears.

That return to winning ways has seen the Odsal based side really hit their attacking straps, with 210 points being scored in the following three fixtures including a whopping 124 against West Wales Raiders.

Despite that though, Kear has expressed concerns with his side’s defence following that most recent win over London Skolars and has identified that as an area for improvement.

He said, “We did not play as well as we can that is for sure. The players went away from the script a little bit and allowed themselves to get dragged into the nitty-gritty side of the game.

“We have to be hard on ourselves and despite running in 11 tries, our defence was soft and we cannot accept those standards. We will need to improve or it will be a forgettable evening in Newcastle.”

Tickets for Friday’s Betfred League 1 encounter remain on sale, with advanced purchased tickets priced at £12 for adults and both the West and East stands open for the game.

Tickets include entry to both the first team fixture and the U19s meeting between the two clubs and can be booked by clicking here, calling 0871 2266060 or by visiting the Kingston Park Stadium box office.

Advanced prices remain valid until midnight on Thursday 17 May, with full match day prices then coming into effect.