Sykes hat-trick sees off late Wildcats scare

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 16 Bradford Bulls 32
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The Independent Online

Paul Sykes, the favourite scapegoat for England's World Cup failure, quadrupled his try tally for the season as Bradford transported their improved form north of the border. Sykes' hat-trick steered the Bulls home in a match they had dominated, but which Wakefield threatened to steal at the end. The Wildcats cut the margin to four points, but then Michael Worrincy, who scored the two tries that beat St Helens last week, sniffed out another and Sykes completed his own good day's work.

The sun shone on Murrayfield to allay any fears that the playing surface might not be able to cope with seven games in two days. It was the Bulls who made the better early use of it, moving the ball fluently across its wide expanse for Sykes to take Ben Jefferies' final pass for his first try with just four minutes gone.

Dave Halley dropped Danny Brough's kick to give Wakefield the chance to strike back, but made up for his mistake by getting his body under the ball to deny Richard Moore a try. Almost immediately, Bradford succeeded again with some sweeping attacking rugby, Paul Deacon putting Jamie Langley through a huge gap and Terry Newton arrived in support to finish the job.

Brough had a Wakefield try disallowed, contentiously, when the video referee spotted a highly debatable obstruction, but they did finally get over the line through Jason Demetriou's sheer determination. Running a tap penalty, the Wildcats' captain appeared to have been halted, but got over the line with a mighty second effort. Briefly, Wakefield were back in the game but were pushed back out of it by two tries in four minutes before half-time.

Sykes got his second of the evening, off the back of more flowing rugby, and then formed the link between Rikki Sheriffe and Steve Menzies for the Australian veteran to romp over. There would have been a third quick try if Sheriffe had not fumbled over the line, but the Bulls were still firmly in command.

Bradford's goal-line defence was good enough to stop Wakefield getting through even when they had a long spell of pressure. The kicking game offered more possibilities, but they were denied yet another try when Dale Ferguson strayed offside before touching down Brough's grubber.

They finally got their breakthrough from Steve Snitch after Menzies had knocked on near his own line. When Brad Drew's kick took a weird ricochet off Matt Blaymire's foot to enable the full-back to touch down, a late shock was on the cards, but then Worrincy got his angle on to Jefferies' pass just right and the crisis was over. Sykes had his personal celebration to come and Bradford's season, dying on its feet a couple of weeks ago, suddenly looks full of possibilities

Harlequins got the better of Salford by 24-16 in an opening match that deserved a bigger audience than a slowly filling Murrayfield. Luke Williamson got Quins off to a good start with a second-minute try, but then the kicking skills of Salford's much sought-after scrum-half Richard Myler came to the fore, creating tries first for Stefan Ratchford and then for himself.

A combination of power and footwork brought Tony Clubb the try that put the Londoners back in front by half-time and David Howell's effort on the hour stretched their lead.

It took a desperate tackle from Clubb to protect that advantage, pushing Robbie Paul into the corner flag. Luke Dorn scored the try that made the game safe against his former club – albeit with the aid of an undetected knock-on from Danny Ward – although the enterprising Ratchford got a second in the final minutes.

Wakefield: Blaymire; Petersen, Martin, Atkins, Grix; Obst, Brough; Wilkes, Drew, Moore, Snitch, Henderson, Demetriou. Substitutes used: Sculthorpe, Leo-Latu, Ferguson, Bibb.

Bradford: Halley; Sheriffe, Sykes, Nero, Tadulala; Jefferies, Deacon; Scruton, Newton, Lynch, Menzied, Burgess, Langley. Substitutes used: Rinaldi, Cook, Worrincy, Kopczak.

Referee: I Smith (Oldham).