Bradford 24 Wakefield 10: 'Immature' Burgess helps Bulls past Wakefield in play-off race

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The Independent Online

Wakefield went down to their fourth defeat in a row in the run-up to Sunday's Challenge Cup semi-final against Hull. Bradford's victory put them two points ahead of their opponents in the tussle for a Super League play-off place.

A much-improved second-half display, with old heads like Terry Newton, Joe Vagana and Paul Deacon to the fore, helped the Bulls return to winning ways.

"We were embarrassingly poor in the first half," said their coach, Steve McNamara. "We were fortunate to be only six points down."

It might have been worse if Wakefield had fielded their key man, Danny Brough, but he was rested with a slight calf strain – not one that threatens his participation at the weekend. "He could played at a push, but we didn't think it was worth the risk," said the Wakefield coach, John Kear.

The only try of an untidy first half came in the first minute of the match when Wakefield's Danny Sculthorpe went to the narrow side with a kick which Damien Blanch touched down. The visitors were marginally the better side after that and they edged further ahead through a Brad Drew penalty.

There was an undercurrent of nastiness running through the game and Brett Ferres was put on report for a dangerous tackle on Ben Jeffries. Soon after that, Newton tackled Matt Petersen around the head, the winger reacted angrily and Sam Burgess was sent to the sin-bin after running in to get involved.

"He showed real immaturity and lack of discipline," said McNamara, who said that Burgess was "highly unlikely" to play for England in this autumn's World Cup, as he needs a shoulder operation.

Bradford drew level early in the second half, when Vagana was stopped on the line and Deacon took Newton's pass to step through. He kicked the goal. Three minutes later, Newton was over himself. Deacon kicked that goal and then provided the pass from which Burgess, a major influence despite his dodgy shoulder, sent Jeffries over.

Wakefield threatened a late revival when Blanch scored his second from a gloriously instinctive flick-on by Jason Demetriou, but Bradford soon snuffed it out when Vagana served the ball up for Iestyn Harris to score.

Bradford: Platt; Evans, Sykes, Nero, Tadulala; Jeffries, Deacon; Vagana, Harris, Lynch, Solomona, Finnigan, Langley. Substitutes used: Newton, Cook, Burgess, Copczak.

Wakefield: Reilly; Blanch, Demetriou, Gleeson, Petersen; Rooney, Drew; Wilkes, Obst, Moore, Golden, Ferres, Sculthorpe. Substitutes used: MacGillivray, Henderson, Bibey, Ferguson.

Refereee: P Bentham (Warrington).