Harris steers Bradford into prime position

Hull 12 - Bradford 26
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The Independent Online

Bradford kept alive their prospects of defending their Super League title from a position in the top two by beating Hull for the first time this season in a stormy match they had looked destined to lose.

Bradford kept alive their prospects of defending their Super League title from a position in the top two by beating Hull for the first time this season in a stormy match they had looked destined to lose.

The Bulls dominated the second half after Hull had a try disallowed and then conceded one immediately before the break. Even then, Hull might have dragged the game back but for the loss of Jason Smith for a crucial period under controversial circumstances.

The early stages belonged completely to Smith, Hull's veteran play-maker and the key man in their attempt on their first title. It was his pass that missed out two team-mates to send Colin Best over in the corner after only two minutes and when he scored one of his own Hull looked to be on their way to taking total control.

Smith's pass put Shayne McMenemy through a half-gap and, when he could not quite make the line, he was there on his shoulder to take the return pass and touch down.

It took a freakish try to bring the Bulls back into contention, Lesley Vainikolo fielding a low kick almost on his own line, Michael Withers staggering his way through a series of tackles and Vainikolo arriving again to complete a length of the field try.

Astonishingly, Paul Deacon missed the easiest of conversions before Paul Cooke put a penalty over for Hull, who would have finished the half in command if Richie Barnett Jnr's touchdown had not been disallowed for a questionable decision that Lee Radford had had the ball stolen from him.

Having had that escape, Bradford went to the other end for Iestyn Harris's long pass to open up the space for Vainikolo to claim his second. Vainikolo completed his hat-trick from Karl Pratt's clever kick and Deacon's penalty put the Bulls in front for the first time. They might not have stayed there but for Stuart Fielden charging through to flatten Smith - an incident placed on report - as the game became increasingly fractious. Paul King had a try disallowed for Hull before Jamie Langley raced over to give Bradford a telling advantage.

Fielden and Smith went to the sin-bin for resuming their altercation and, with two minutes to play, Harris made sure of a vital win for Bradford by dummying and reaching over the line.

Hull should still hang on to second spot, but it is now going to be much more of struggle than they had hoped.

Hull: Briscoe; Best, Yeaman; Whiting, Barnett Jnr, Cooke, Horne; King, Swain, Dowes, McMenemy, McNicholas, Smith. Substitutes used: Barnett Snr, Fletcher, Carvell, Scruton.

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

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).

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