Vaikona drives Bulls past Giants to prove title credentials

Huddersfield 6 Bradford 52
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The Independent Online

The Bradford juggernaut began to rumble ominously at the McAlpine Stadium yesterday as they moved to within two points of Leeds at the top of Super League with a game in hand.

The Bulls captain, Robbie Paul, led the way with a glittering hat-trick, after Tevita Vaikona had triggered the rout by scoring two tries and creating another in the first-half.

Despite the absence of the suspended Leon Pryce and the rested James Lowes, plus the loss of Paul Deacon with an eye injury in the first-half, Bradford were simply too good.

"I've seen them a few times since their cup run and they probably haven't been quite as potent, but they sure got their act together today,'' said the Huddersfield coach, Tony Smith. "They'd be my favourites to take the title.''

Vaikona began his mission of destruction as early as the third minute, taking Paul's pass to go over. Paul's 40-20 kick then created the position from which he went over from Deacon's pass, before Vaikona galloped down the right again to set up Scott Naylor for his 100th career try.

Rob Parker's first touch was a pass to send Vaikona away again as the Giants continued to be overrun and, before half-time, it was Karl Pratt's turn to score from long range.

Huddersfield had their most promising spell of the game immediately after half-time, with a break from Iain Morrison momentarily splitting the defence. He got his pass away to Paul March, but he was tackled just short of the line by Mike Forshaw.

Stuart Reardon also had to beat Cooper to Stanley Gene's kick into the in-goal area before normal service was resumed by Paul, darting through for his second try from a pass by Aaron Smith, making a good job of his debut in place of James Lowes.

Jamie Peacock then went 60 yards, ignoring support on either side, for a spectacular solo effort, followed straight from the restart by Paul's third, after Reardon had fielded the kick-off.

Three minutes later, the ball went from one side of the field to the other for Lesley Vainikolo to touchdown, with the stand-in kicker, Lee Radford, landing his fourth conversion to go alongside the three kicked earlier by Deacon.

Huddersfield gained some scant consolation when Julian Bailey got over after Mick Slicker had charged down Pratt's kick. It was a try that did absolutely nothing to disguise the embarrassing gulf in quality between the two sides.

For the Bradford coach, Brian Noble, it was ideal preparation for Friday's game against Leeds. Lowes will be back for that, although Deacon will need an examination this week on his eye.

Huddersfield: St Hiliare; O'Hare, Bailey, Bloem, Cooper; Costin, Holroyd; Fleary, March, Gannon, O'Doherty, Crabtree, Turner. Substitutes used: Gene, Slicker, Greenwood, Morrison

Bradford: Paul; Vaikona, Naylor, Hape, Vainikolo; Pratt, Deacon; Vagana, Smith, Gartner, Gilmour, Peacock, Forshaw. Substitutes used: Reardon, Radford, Parker, Anderson.

Referee: I Smith (Oldham).