Kirk Dixon passed the 1000-point mark for Castleford as the Tigers came from behind to open their Super League XIX campaign with a hard-fought 36-18 victory at Odsal which capped a miserable week for crisis club Bradford.
Cash-strapped and points-deduction threatened Bradford, who on the eve of the new season suffered the shock walk-out of star players Garreth Carvell (to Hull) and Jarrod Sammut (to Wakefield), led three times and until 25 minutes from the end.
But Castleford finished the stronger to run in six tries in all with Dixon adding six goals from seven attempts. Cas gave full debuts to no fewer than six close-season signings including second stints at Wheldon Road for former Bradford captain Andy Lynch and Luke Dorn.
But Bradford struck first with less than four minutes on the clock when Luke Gale and Lee Gaskell put Danny Addy through a hole and Jamie Foster converted. Cas then levelled when Weller Hauraki strolled through some less convincing tackling to score. Dixon converted to leave the sides level at the break.
After the break, there were three tries in the opening seven minutes. Bradford went ahead again as Gale stabbed a grubber kick into the corner which stood up nicely for Foster to grab before reaching out to score.
But Cas immediately regained possession through a loose Manase Manuakafoa off-load just after the restart and they capitalized when Dixon crossed in the corner then converted his own score from the touchline.
Equally as rapidly, the Bulls were ahead again when Purtell rose to claim and ground Gale cross-kick at the other end and Foster added his third goal.
But the Tigers did not trail for long as Liam Finn picked up a Dixon kick and sent Daryl Clark racing over for a try. Dixon again converted to bring up the winger’s 1,000th point since joining the the Tigers in 2007 as well as tying the scores once more. Dixon then missed a straightforward penalty for interference almost in front of the posts just after the hour mark.
Bradford’s let-off was shortlived as Justin Carney claimed a high kick from Finn and needed only to fall across the line to score and put Cas in front for the first time just three minutes later.
Kear gave the Bulls one late glimmer of hope when racing the length of the field to touch down, only to be called back by referee Robert Hicks for a forward pass.
Dorn then crossed to virtually seal the win seven minutes from time, Grant Millington adding another try on the final play, with Dixon finishing with six goals.
Bradford: Kearney, Kear, Henry, Purtell, Foster, Gaskell, Gale, Scruton, Diskin, Sidlow, Olbison, Addy, Donaldson. Subs (all used): Manuokafoa, O’Brien, Walker, Bridge.
Castleford: Dorn, Dixon, Channing, Shenton, Carney, Sneyd, Finn, Lynch, Clark, Huby, Holmes, Hauraki, Millington. Subs (all used): Milner, Wheeldon, Mariano, Fleming.
Referee: Robert Hicks (RFL).