Bradford 12 Wakefield 20: Sloppy Bulls keep Wakefield's hopes alive

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The Independent Online

Wakefield's eight-year tenure in Super League goes on at least for another week, thanks to a fiercely determined defensive effort at Odsal last night. The Wildcats hung grimly on to a half-time advantage earned by opportunism and the rank indiscipline of the Bulls, who had a player sent to the sin bin in each half.

"It was an heroic effort," said John Kear, the coach who has steered Wakefield to the brink of safety. It now comes down to next weekend's meeting with Castleford. The losers are out of the top flight although the possibility remains that a draw could send Harlequins down.

Bradford took the lead with a 19th-minute try from Michael Withers after slick passing from Shontayne Hape, but the direction of the half changed when Wakefield got the ball straight back from the kick off, thanks to a rebound off Chris McKenna and Ned Catic's alert recovery.

David Solomona had not been in the game, but the first time he ran at the defence he opened it up with ease for Semi Tadulala to score. It got worse for Bradford when Withers conceded a penalty by fouling Tadulala, and Iestyn Harris was sent to the sin bin for trying to delay the restart. Further indiscipline saw Terry Newton go high on Duncan MacGillivray and Jamie Rooney landed the equalising goal.

Harris was still cooling his heels when McKenna's high tackle on Catic allowed the Wildcats to go ahead through another Rooney kick. The Bulls gave them every opportunity to fight for their lives. McKenna was guilty again, this time with a knock-on in the tackle to set up Wakefield's second try, made by Jason Demetriou's pass to Colum Halpenny. Two minutes before half-time, Solomona ghosted away down the left touchline to send Catic over, and Wakefield's survival hopes were very much alive.

Another Rooney penalty, for Ben Harris' foul, nudged Wakefield further ahead at the start of the second half, but Withers' try after Wakefield allowed Paul Deacon's kick to bounce gave the home side a lift. Wakefield tackled magnificently, but Bradford's bad habits came back to haunt them when Ian Henderson was their second player sent to the sin bin, that made it easier to hang on but Bradford were pounding the visitors' defensive line until the end.

Bradford's coach, Steve McNamara, refused to blame the referee, Steve Ganson, for his side's problems, although some of his decisions enraged the Bradford fans, especially when he twice left them a man short. "It summed up the way we played," he said. "We were very dumb in a lot of things we did."

Bradford: Withers; Bai, Pryce, Hape, Vainikolo; I Harris, Deacon; Vegana, Newton, Lynch, McKenna, Meyers, Ferres. Substitutes used: Cook, Burgess, I Henderson, B Harris.

Wakefield: Halpenny; Demetriou, Evans, Atkins, Tadulala; Rooney, Jeffries; Korkidas, Obst, Watene, MacGillivray, Solomona, Betham. Substitutes used: Catic, Latu, K Henderson, March.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).

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