Bradford bent on restoration of natural order

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The Independent Online

Super league is in danger of settling into a pattern of the big three versus the rest - and it could look even more that way after this weekend.

Super league is in danger of settling into a pattern of the big three versus the rest - and it could look even more that way after this weekend.

Bradford dropped their first point of the season at Hull on Wednesday, fielding a team that bore little relation to the one that won at Murrayfield. They will be rather more recognisable against Wakefield tomorrow.

Henry Paul is among those likely to return, but the Bulls will be without Stuart Fielden, who injured an ankle at the Boulevard, and may give a first appearance to Robert Parker, a highly promising centre from their Academy team.

For Wakefield, this is the first try out for a new chain of command, with Andy Kelly sharing his duties for coaching the side with his new assistant, Tony Kemp, and the club's general manager, John Harbin.

How stable this arrangement will prove to be is debatable, but it appears that there was a feeling within the club that a change was needed. Trinity expect to be without Tony Tatupu, Francis Maloney and Willie Poching at Odsal.

Wigan face Hull, the side that knocked them out of the Challenge Cup earlier this year. Their coach, Frank Endacott, was so pleased with their effort against Warrington last week that he has kept an unchanged squad while Hull are hopeful that Brian Carney and Craig Simon could resume.

Like Wigan, St Helens have lost just once so far this season, but they face one of their sterner tests at fourth-placed Castleford.

One of the most impressive aspects of Saints' unbeaten run under Ian Millward has been that it has been achieved without a number of important players. Two of them, Paul Atcheson and Paul Sculthorpe could be fit to return. On the other hand, Sean Long, named this week's as Super League's Player of the Month, could be out with a leg strain. Cas also have problems at half-back, with Brad Davis still out and his replacement, Aaron Raper, also likely to be missing.

Steve Blakeley is in line to make his second debut for Salford after rejoining them from Warrington, but Martin Offiah is out with a hamstring injury. Opponents Halifax expect to have Greg Florimo back after flu.

In the Northern Ford Premiership the leaders, Leigh, should consolidate at home to Batley, while the southern based Rugby League Conference kicks off its new season with four new clubs - Kingston, South London, Coventry and Rotherham - appearing for the first time.

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