Rooney stars as Wakefield prove league credentials

Bradford Bulls 16 Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 28
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The Independent Online

Sceptics who feared that Wakefield might struggle to match last season's achievements had that theory shoved back in their faces as they produced a tremendous performance at Odsal to launch the new Super League campaign.

Sceptics who feared that Wakefield might struggle to match last season's achievements had that theory shoved back in their faces as they produced a tremendous performance at Odsal to launch the new Super League campaign.

This was a good start that was thoroughly deserved, with half-backs, Jamie Rooney and Ben Jeffries often combining brilliantly, Jamie Field putting in a superb 80 minutes in the pack and Julian O'Neill making a highly effective debut.

Wakefield got away to a wonderful start thanks to Stuart Reardon's knock-on from the kick-off, which enabled them to exert pressure that brought its reward when O'Neill supplied Field, who got a clever pass out of the tackle for Rooney to touch down and add the conversion.

Trinity were full of ideas and enterprise and were very much the better side until Bradford hit them with two tries in three minutes. A slick pass from Joe Vagana set up the first, Lee Radford also handling before Leon Pryce sent his younger brother Karl over in the corner. Then Robbie Paul raced out of dummy half for their second try, with Iestyn Harris there to take the pass and the score, leaving Paul Deacon an easy conversion.

Any thoughts that Bradford were in control were squashed thanks to a sweeping attack triggered by O'Neill. Jeffries was stopped just short of the line, but had the presence of mind on the next tackle to fling the ball out for Colum Halpenny to score in the corner, with a couple of Rooney penalties giving the Wildcats a four-point lead at the break.

Wakefield turned that into a potential winning position at the start of the second half, when Jeffries scored from Sam Obst's pass and Rooney added a conversion and a drop goal.

That sparked a new urgency from the Bulls and surging runs from Reardon and Vagana set up the position from which Jamie Langley scored. But Wakefield's defence stood up magnificently, and Darrell Griffin scored the clinching try from O'Neill's pass and a second drop goal from Rooney rounded off a splendid afternoon's work.

"People probably thought it was a fluke last year,'' said the Wakefield coach, Shane McNally. "Time will tell.'' Bradford's coach Brian Noble, who has accepted that his captain, Andy Farrell, will have moved to rugby union before the autumn, said: "You've got to give them credit, but we played dumb.''

Bradford Bulls:Rearden, K Pryce, L Pryce, Johnson, Vainikolo, Harris, Deacon, Vagana, Paul, Fielden, Meyers, Peacock, Radford. Substitutes used: Langley, Smith, Lynch, Parker.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: M Field, Halpenny, Demetriou, King, Tadulala, Rooney, Jeffries, Griffin, March, Korkidas, Elima, J Field, O'Neill. Substitutes used: Obst, Wrench, Feather, Solomona.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).

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