Castleford's second-half fightback in vain at Bradford

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CASTLEFORD'S defence again let them down in Monday's high-scoring Super League clash at Bradford Bulls.

Trailing 34-16 at half-time, the Tigers cut the gap to eight points in the second-half before eventually losing 46-32.

Rangi Chase (pictured) and Rhys Williams each scored two tries for the Tigers.

Four tries in 16 first half minutes gave the Bradford a decisive advantage, although sloppy defensive work from both sides allowed the game to develop into something of a try-fest.

Bradford roared into a 24 point lead before three tries either side of half time gave Castleford hope of improving a recent record of just one win the their previous five games.

And it was not until Shaun Ainscough crossed for Bradford's last try five minutes before the end that the fighting Tigers aspirations finally died.

Keith Lulia put Bradford ahead after seven minutes following good work from towering winger Karl Pryce in claiming a Ben Jeffries kick, although Luke Gale's attempted conversion from the touchline went wide.

Full-back Brett Kearney extended the lead when darting onto a neat inside pass from Gale, who this time had no trouble in adding the extra two points, barely three minutes later.

Castleford hit back swiftly when Jordan Thompson crossed at the other end but goal-kicker Kirk Dixon was no more successful from the touchline than Gale had been.

In-demand teenage forward John Bateman restored the host's 10-point lead, reaching out in the tackle, after taking a clever wrong-footing inside pass from Lulia, with Gale again on target with the boot.

France international Olivier Elima continued Bulls forward momentum - helping open a 22-4 lead when charging onto a Bryn Hargreaves pass.

A magnificent side-stepping solo effort from Chase gave the Tigers a foothold in the game, after the visitors were gifted good field possession by a Pryce knock-on while fielding a deep kick.

The respite was brief as two tries in three minutes from Ainscough left the Odsal outfit back in command.

First the Bulls winger rose to collect and ground a well-weighted Jeffries diagonal kick and Ainscough was over again, having been set free by a long looping pass from Heath L'Estrange, making his first start of the season at hooker in Diskin's absence.

Nathan Massey grabbed another score back for Cas - the ninth try of the half - as both defences continued to prove fragile, leaving Bradford ahead 34-16 at the break.

Castleford lost Massey to what appeared an arm injury just after the restart but bossed the opening 10 minutes, eventually being rewarded when Danny Orr put Williams over in the corner.

Williams was again the grateful recipient when Ainscough missed a high Chase bomb and as Dixon landed his third goal in five attempts, the visitors were suddenly back within two scores of their hosts.

The Bulls regrouped and Gale and Jeffries combined incisively to put Kearney in for his second try on the hour and so help clam any nerves.

But still the Tigers refused to lie down as Chase danced his way to another solo score, leaving the Bulls clinging on at times before Ainscough completed his hat-trick just before the end - Gale finishing with seven goals from eight attempts.