Nero's hat-trick keeps Bulls in the running

Bradford 44 Salford 18
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The Independent Online

Bradford's worst Super League season is still alive and could yet end with a flourish, thanks to an easy victory over a club that finally confirmed the worst-kept secret in the sport.

Salford admitted before kick-off that their England scrum-half, Richie Myler, is joining Warrington. Myler, who was again left out yesterday, will be unveiled today, along with Bradford's David Solomona and Ryan Atkins of Wakefield. "I'm disappointed that Richie has chosen to leave the club, but that's business and that's what happens in the game," said the Salford coach, Shaun McRae.

"It's been hard for me handling a very naïve young man. He's been put in the shop window and I don't think he's handled that very well."

Meanwhile, Bradford, whose season seemed to have fizzled out weeks ago, now only need to beat Hull next weekend and hope that the Catalan Dragons do not win at St Helens. In that case, they would take eighth place in the play-offs. That would be an outcome no one would have predicted a month ago, but one which Salford never looked capable of influencing one way or the other at Odsal.

The City Reds, who say that they will invest the Myler transfer fee of over £200,000 on strengthening their team, looked in urgent need as they effectively lost this game by conceding three tries in the first 11 minutes. It was a rate of attrition that briefly hinted at the 96 points they conceded to the Bulls in 2000. They started the rot when Ray Cashmere was penalised for not playing the ball, paving the way for Chris Nero to score the first of his hat-trick. Jamie Langley, Bradford's man of the match, then initiated an attack that ended with Semi Tadulala scoring on the opposite wing, and Langley himself swept in for the third.

Fortunately for Salford, they succeeded in dragging the Bulls down to their level for stretches of the game. They got on the scoreboard when Dave Halley fumbled a kick from Stefan Ratchford, who then supplied the final pass to John Wilshere.

Langley took Sam Burgess's pass to ensure that Bradford were well in control at half-time, and Nero completed his hat-trick early in the second half, courtesy of an off-load from Steve Menzies and a kick from Paul Deacon.

A one-handed pass from Burgess presented Tadulala with his second, before Salford were allowed some respectability with tries from Wilshere and Mark Henry. All the same, Andy Lynch's final try made it Bradford's biggest win of the season.

Not that Steve McNamara has changed his tune when it comes to not discussing his side's play-off prospects. "It's still out of our hands," he said.

Bradford: Halley; Sheriffe, Platt, Nero, Tadulala; Sykes, Deacon; Lynch, Godwin, Scruton, Langley, Morrison, Menzies. Substitutes used: Jeffries, Worrincy, Burgess, Kopczak.

Salford: Fitzpatrick; Wilshere, Henry, Littler, McGilvray; Smith, Ratchford; Cashmere, Alker, Stapleton, Sibbit, Adamson, Swain. Substitutes used: Leuluai, Sidlow, Nash, Paul.

Referee: J Child (Dewsbury).