Gleeson deepens Bradford woes

Warrington 35 Bradford 32
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Warrington drew level on points with Bradford in the middle reaches of the Super League table yesterday, but they were left hanging on desperately at the end of a match they had once looked like winning in some comfort.

Warrington drew level on points with Bradford in the middle reaches of the Super League table yesterday, but they were left hanging on desperately at the end of a match they had once looked like winning in some comfort.

With a 25-point lead early in the second half, the Wolves were cruising towards their best win of what has so far been a disappointing season. However, Bradford, so dismal in the first half, sparked into belated life. Lesley Vainikolo, a dormant volcano before the interval, scored a try from close range and then one from 90 metres after he picked off Lee Briers' kick near his own line. When Jamie Langley stretched over to score from Iestyn Harris' pass, the Bulls were within seven points, but the most important try of an eventful afternoon gave Warrington some breathing space.

Martin Gleeson took Briers' pass and beat Karl Pratt with the some high-quality footwork; equally significant was Briers' conversion from a wide angle.

The drama was not over. Another probing pass from Harris sent Michael Withers over and in the last minute he did the same for Langley. Harris could not convert and Warrington protected their three-point lead for the remaining seconds to condemn the Bulls to a third Super League defeat in a row.

The Warrington coach, Paul Cullen, felt more admiration than anxiety during the closing stages. "The players' character has gone up a couple of notches today," he said. "Bradford came back at us and gave everything they had."

That proved to be not quite enough. "We started poorly," admitted their coach, Brian Noble, with some understatement. "They were more enthusiastic than us and we left ourselves too big a hill to climb."

That slope started to loom when Nathan Wood took a difficult pass from Mark Gleeson to score after four minutes. Brad Myers struck back in an isolated Bradford counter-attackbut the rest of the half belonged completely to the Wolves.

Brent Grose scored twice in quick succession and the disarray in which Bradford found themselves was summed up when Briers kicked to the corner and Henry Fa'afili had what seemed like an age to examine the ball before placing it gently over the try line.

Briers, given much more freedom by the renaissance of Wood alongside him, added a penalty and a drop before half-time and Warrington appeared to be well in control when Martin Gleeson seized upon his kick to establish that 25-point lead.

Noble remained philosophical about the implications of another defeat knocking Bradford out of Super League's top six. "It's certainly not desperate," he said. "There's two-thirds of the season to go."

Warrington: Grose; Fa'afili, Martin Gleeson, Kohe-Love, Appo; Briers, N Wood; Leikvoll, Mark Gleeson, Hilton, Westwood, Wainwright, Clarke. Substitutes used: Noone, P Wood, Lima.

Bradford: Withers; Reardon, Langley, L Pryce, Vainikolo; Harris, Deacon; Vagana, Paul, Fielden, Peacock, Meyers, Radford. Substitutes used: K Pryce, Ferres, Lynch, Parker.

Referee: I Smith (Oldham).

* Hull moved into third place with a 32-28 victory over Widnes yesterday and were indebted to the performances of their scrum-half Danny Brough and prop Jamie Thackray as they made heavy work of beating struggling opposition. Brough kicked 12 points and Thackray proved a constant menace.

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