31st March 2020, 13:36 | 125

#RFL125 Greatest Team Contender | Bradford Bulls

The first treble winners of Super League era

The latest #RFL125 poll is now live and voting is open for the Greatest Team!

There are five legendary teams up for selection and the next side is Bradford Bulls’ treble-winning side from 2003; the first the achieve the feat in the Super League era.

The Season

The 2003 season was Bradford Bulls take British Rugby League by storm both on and off the field at the height of ‘Bullmania’. The Bulls would become the first side to complete the treble in the Super League era lifting the Challenge Cup League Leaders’ Shield and Super League trophies.

Bradford’s competitive season began with a 38-12 victory over Warrington Wolves in the Challenge Cup and the Bulls would also go on to knockout Hunslet Hawks, Widnes Vikings and Wigan Warriors on route to a Wembley clash with old rivals Leeds Rhinos. Bradford edged out the Rhinos 22-20 with Robbie Paul, Jamie Peacock and Tevita Vaikona on the scoresheet but Paul Deacon’s boot proved the difference.

The Bulls’ Super League campaign began with a loss to St Helens at Knowsley Road, but they soon found form winning their next nine league outings. Three consecutive home losses in mid-season looked to derail the Bulls but 11 wins from their final 13 Super League fixtures saw them lift the League Leaders’ Shield. The key victory coming on September 7 as a Deacon drop-goal saw them once more narrowly beat the Rhinos 22-21. Bradford would finish the regular season on 44 points; three more than nearest rivals Leeds. 

The sides met again in the Qualifying Semi-Final of the Super League play-offs, but it was a more comfortable victory for Bradford running out 30-14 victors. Bradford would go on to capture the Super League title with a 25-12 win over Wigan at Old Trafford. Shontayne Hape, James Lowes and Stuart Reardon were on the scoresheet while Deacon was imperious with the boot again kicking six goals and a drop-goal.

Bradford would go on to be crowned champions of the world in early 2004 as they beat NRL Premiers Penrith Panthers 22-4 at Odsal in front of almost 20,000 spectators. Lesley Vainikolo, Leaon Pryce, Rob Parker and Logan Swann were the scores for Bradford. 

The Players 

Lesley Vainikolo finished the 2004 season as Bradford’s top try-scorer with ‘The Volcano’ powering his way over for an impressive 26 tries in all competitions. 

Centre Leon Pryce notched 21 tries while fellow back-line partners Tevita Vaikona and Shontayne Hape scored 21 and 16 tries, respectively. 

Scrum-half Paul Deacon was an integral part of the Bulls’ success in attack and his kicking ability often proved the difference throughout the 2003 season while Robbie Hunter-Paul was a constant threat from full-back reaching 125 tries for the club.

Bradford’s pack struck fear into many of their opponents with the likes of Jamie Peacock, Stuart Fielden, Paul Anderson, Jamie Langley and Mike Forshaw being led by clever hooker James Lowes. 

The Coach

Brian Noble had represented Bradford – then known as Bradford Northern – for two spells during his playing career and would be appointed as Head Coach in 2001.

Noble had led the club to the Super League title back in 2001 before a narrow defeat to St Helens prevented them lifting the title again in 2002. The 2002 season began with Bradford winning the World Club Challenge against Newcastle Knights.

However, the 2003 season saw the Noble become the first coach of the Super League era to complete the treble. Noble would go on to coach Great Britain while at Bradford before leaving the club for spells with Wigan Warriors, Crusaders and Salford Red Devils.

The Honours 

Challenge Cup

League Leaders’ Shield

Super League

World Club Challenge (2004) 

The Squad in full

Robbie Hunter-Paul, Tevita Vaikona, Leon Pryce, Shontayne Hape, Lesley Vainikolo, Michael Withers, Paul Deacon, Joe Vagana, James Lowes, Paul Anderson, Daniel Gartner, Jamie Peacock, Mike Forshaw, Lee Gilmour, Karl Pratt, Alex Wilkinson, Stuart Reardon, Lee Radford, Jamie Langley, Scott Naylor, Karl Pryce, Vinny Myler, Chris Bridge, Rob Parker, Stuart Fielden, Richard Moore

 

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