The Magic Weekend starts here with a Championship curtain raiser in the form of Newcastle Thunder against the Bradford Bulls, the latter having played a memorable part in many previous Magic Weekends.
Thunder were taking full advantage of this weekend being staged in their city at St James Park and hoping for a bumper crowd for what had been dubbed as Magic Friday at Kingston Park as they looked to reduce the six point deficit that they currently have to their West Yorkshire opponents. A victory for the Bulls wouldn´t improve their league position but it would edge them closer on points to the current top six.
The Bulls were clear favourites for the win but this was Newcastle´s special night.
It was the perfect start for the home side in the opening couple of minutes when Jack Johnsone found an acre of space down the right-hand side to go in. Jake Shorrocks added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
Within a couple of minutes, Thunder were in again with Josh Eaves picked the ball up at dummy half and scooting over. Shorrocks added the conversion for 12-0. The Bulls were not getting a sniff.
Alex Foster was sin-binned on eleven for dissent towards the New Zealand official Michael Smaill, Thunder down to twelve.
On twenty-one Thunder were awarded a penalty thirty out from the sticks and Shorrocks slotted the ball between the uprights for a fourteen-point lead.
On twenty-six the Bulls finally got over the whitewash as Newcastle returned to thirteen men. Dec Patton, and Kieran Gill, combined to put Ryan Millar over. Patton was unable to add the extras.
On thirty minutes a high kick was spilled by Craig Mullen and picked up by David Foggin-Johnston for a simple walk-in try. Patton added the conversion for 10-14.
The Bulls fightback ended on thirty-five when Shorrocks carried the Bradford defenders over the line with him for the third Thunder try of the night. The Newcastle stand-off added the conversion to his own try for a ten-point lead with a couple of minutes of the half remaining.
A minute from the break Sam Halsall found space to go in again for Thunder for their second double-whammy of the game, again crushing any thoughts of a Bulls fightback. Unexpectedly Shorrocks missed the conversion from under the sticks, 24-10 at the break.
Three minutes after the restart the Thunder were in again as Johnson did just what he´s done in the first half and get over the whitewash. Shorrocks was again accurate with the boot for 30-10. The game was drifting beyond the Bulls, and they were being totally outplayed.
It was all too easy on fifty minutes, Thunders first ever win over the Bulls, when Brad Day scored the sixth Newcastle try of the night. Shorrocks added the conversion for 36-10.
Try seven came on the hour mark with Gideon Boafo as he took the ball as it was moved from left to right from the back of the scrum. Shorrocks didn´t add the extras, Newcastle into the forties, the Bulls devastated.
Josh Woods kicked a drop goal on sixty-three to rub salt into the Bulls wound.
Alex Foster scored the eighth try for Thunder, again from a scrum as he danced over the line and Shorrocks added the extra two for 47-10, an awful night at the office for the Bulls.
It was an absolute procession when Thunder scored the ninth try through a short-range scoot from Tom Forber with eleven minutes remaining on the clock. Shorrocks kicked his eighth goal of the night for 53-10, twenty-nine unanswered second half points.
Tempers frayed in the closing minutes but somehow the Bulls avoided conceding any more points, despite being under siege. Newcastle hearing the hooter to signal a massive 53-10 victory.
Bradford will have made the journey up the A1 full of hope that they´d be taking the points home with them but they delivered nothing from the opening minute, as Newcastle upset the form book and totally dominated for the entire eighty. All credit to Newcastle, they marketed the game well and got in a big crowd to witness their performance of the season so far, keeping alive their outside hopes of making the playoffs.
Newcastle Thunder: Mullen, Boafo (T), Halsall (T), Hanley, Johnson (2T), Shorrocks (T, 8G), Woods (DG), Roberts, Eaves (T), Chapelhow, Foster (T), Day (T), Peachey. Subs: Clark, Ta´ai, Gallagher, Forber (T).
Bradford Bulls: Kear, Foggin-Johnston (T), Murphy, Gill, Millar (T), Patton (G), Lilley, Baldwinson, Doyle, Crossley, Kibula, Wallace, Hallas. Subs: Flanagan, Evans, Fleming, Walker.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 12-0, (SB), 14-0, 14-4, 14-8, 14-10, 18-10, 20-10, 24-10 : HT : 28-10, 30-10, 34-10, 36-10, 40-10, 41-10, 45-10, 47-10, 51-10, 53-10 : FT.
Lead Exchanges: Newcastle.
Referee: Michael Smaill.