Brawl mars return of Harris

Bradford 36 - Wakefield 26
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The Independent Online

Iestyn Harris made a quiet return to rugby league in a game that was anything but, as his new side overcame the handicap of playing with 12 men for 55 minutes.

Bradford adopted a sensible, gradualist approach by starting with Harris on the bench rather than throwing him straight into his first game of rugby league for three years from the kick-off.

The choreographed reaction to the announcement of Harris's name as a Bradford player was appropriately enthusiastic, but it was the currentBulls stand-off, Leon Pryce, who created the opening try inside the first two minutes. Michael Wainwright fumbled the ball deep in his own half for Pryce to run at the defence and send Jamie Peacock over for an easily converted try.

Wakefield, with a recent win over St Helens to show their potential as party spoilers, were wasting promising positions with woeful handling and they fell further behind after 13 minutes when Stuart Reardon took a Pryce pass standing still but went through to the try line.

Lesley Vainikolo's sloppy play-the-ball near his own line gave the Wildcats the chance to strike back, Olivier Elima going over from Jamie Field's short pass.

The match was interrupted in the 25th minute by the ugliest brawl of the season so far. Pryce and Semi Tadulala began it and were both sent to the sin bin, but Karl Pratt, who came in from behind to hit Tadulala was sent off by the referee, Ian Smith. Plenty of others could have been called to account. At one stage battle raged on three fronts.

Despite their one-man disadvantage, Bradford extended their lead on the half-hour when Paul Deacon found another of the gaping holes in a substandard Wakefield defence.

For all that, Trinity were well in touch once more when David Solomona's defence-splitting pass released Field who looked suspiciously though he lost control sliding over the line.

There was still plenty of spite in the game and Deacon made it an eight-point lead for the Bulls at half-time after Gareth Ellis crunched Pryce in a high tackle.

Deacon's cleverly angled kick helped extend the lead early in the second half, as Vainikolo beat Wainwright to touch it down. Straight from the kick-off, Reardon and Lee Radford sent Rob Parker through, juggling the ball as he went.

Solomona got one back for Wakefield, but Harris was comfortable coming into the game after 52 minutes. It was a while before he became involved, although when he did there were some neat touches.

Tadulala wasted a two-on-one chance provided by Solomona. Ellis did get over and, nine minutes from time, Rob Spicer took Ben Jeffries' pass to make it anything but clear-cut for the Bulls.

Deacon's penalty, after Ellis went high off Harris, eased the pressure and Vainikolo's try two minutes from time made sure it would be a winning reintroduction to rugby league.

Bradford: Reardon, Pratt, Langley, Hape, Vainikolo, Pryce, Deacon, Vagana, Paul, Fielden, Swann, Peacock, Radford. Substitutes used: Harris, Smith, Parker, Anderson.

Wakefield: Halfpenny, Wainwright, Demetriou, Domic, Tadulala, Ellis, Jeffries, Field, March, Korkidas, Solomona, Applegarth, Spicer. Substitutes used: Snitch, Handforth, Ryder, Lima.

Referee: I Smith (Oldham).