18 May 2022

BRADFORD BECKONS FOR THUNDER

A look ahead to Saturday's trip to Odsal for Betfred Championship round 12

Newcastle Thunder travel to West Yorkshire for their next round of Betfred Championship rugby league this Saturday, with Bradford Bulls the next opponents for Eamon O’Carroll’s side.

Thunder got back to winning ways last time out by virtue of an impressive 22-52 win over London Broncos to maintain pace in a congested mid-field chasing places in the top six.

With 11 games played in the season, Newcastle are joint seventh with Sheffield Eagles, this weekend’s opposition and Widnes Vikings with all four clubs currently on 10 points with five wins apiece.

A win at Odsal would elevate Thunder above the former World Club champions and potentially close to within a point of a play-off berth should other results go their way, with more than half the season still to go.

Saturday’s trip to the “Wembley of the North” is remarkably only the sixth meeting between Newcastle and Bradford, with 2022 only the fourth season the two clubs have played in the same league.

Playing against each other in then Gateshead Thunder’s solitary season in the Super League, the two clubs had to wait until 2018 to face each other again as Bradford joined the ranks of League 1.

That season saw the Bulls provide the opposition for Thunder on the Friday prior to the Magic Weekend at St James’ Park, something that will be mirrored this year in the return fixture on July 8.

The Bulls head into this weekend’s clash off the back of a defeat to York City Knights and looking to lay down a marker after a tricky April, where a three-game Betfred Championship losing streak saw head coach John Kear part ways with the club at the end of the month.

Currently under the guidance of interim-head coach Mark Dunning, the Bulls enjoyed a 22-34 win over Whitehaven in his first game in charge so will be eager to take a first home win for the temporary boss this weekend.

Having matched the Bulls on their own turf for large swathes of the corresponding fixture in 2021, a first win over the Bulls this weekend would allow Newcastle to spoil the reunion with former Thunder-men Kieran Gill, Samy Kibula and Sam Hallas.

Thunder will name a 21-man squad for Saturday's clash on Thursday lunchtime, with the 17-man match-day squad confirmed an hour ahead of kick-off.

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