Sykes turns from hero to villain as Broncos fall apart

London 26 - Bradford 41
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The Independent Online

The Broncos squandered an 18-point lead to crash to a sixth Super League defeat in a row as the Bulls roared back at them in the second half at Griffin Park yesterday. The astonishing ups and downs of this match were summed up in the person of Paul Sykes. The former Bradford player could do little wrong for London in the first half.

In the second, he played a crucial part in his side's downfall by putting his kick-off into touch on the full no less than three times.

From the first, Bradford got their first points on the board through Iestyn Harris and, although London restored their lead through Tyrone Smith, the pattern of their decline had been set.

"It was a big stat in the game," said the Broncos coach, Tony Rea, of Sykes' repeated blunder. "One is too many and three is over the top, but he's been fantastic this season, and is probably knocking on the Great Britain door."

Bradford, so indecisive in the first half, started to develop an unstoppable momentum. Tries from Stuart Reardon, the excellent Stuart Fielden and Jamie Peacock brought them level and their eventual victory looked inevitable even before Rob Parker's juggling set up Jamie Langley for the score that put them ahead for the first time.

Paul Deacon made sure with a drop goal, and the Pryce brothers, Leon and Karl, both scored easy tries through an exhausted defence before Nick Bradley-Qalilawa crossed for a late token effort for London.

"As bad as we were in the first half, we were super in the second," said the Bradford coach, Brian Noble.

"In rugby league, there are certain principles you have to establish before you can play." It was London who appeared to be doing that in the first half, as they smothered Bradford in defence and seized eagerly upon their chances.

Sykes went 90 metres for their first try after nine minutes, and Lee Hopkins hit Thomas Leuluai's pass at full pace for their second.

When Jon Wells hit Sykes' pass to squeeze in at the corner just before half-time, it seemed that the Broncos were set to put their dismal recent run behind them - but that failed to take account of their split personality and Bradford's superior stamina.

"Bradford are a great second-half team," said Rea. True, but you don't have to invite them to prove it.

London Broncos: McLinden; Bradley-Qalilawa, O'Halloran, Sykes, Wells; Dorn, Leuluai; Trindall, Highton, Lolohea, Hopkins, Purdom, Haumono. Substitutes used: Stephenson, Williams, Tookey, Smith.

Bradford Bulls: L Pryce; Pratt, Reardon, Langlay, Vainikolo; Harris, Paul; Peacock, Beacon, Fielden, Meyers, Parker, Radford.

Substitutes used: Vagana, Lynch, K Pryce, Ferres.

Referee: L Laughton (Barnsley).

¿ A year after Hull beat Salford 82-6, John Kear's men again took the points, but his side's display in their 20-6 Super League win yesterday did little to enhance their title claims. In the end, Hull were indebted to the performances of Richard Whiting and Paul Cooke in particular. Indeed, Salford can feel unlucky to have come away empty-handed on the back of their first-half performance and had they made more of their early dominance they may well have taken the spoils.