Vainikolo's hat-trick helps Bradford douse Hull fire

Bradford 36 Hull 22
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A hat-trick from Lesley Vainikolo inspired Bradford to the win that took them three points clear at the top of Super League after Hull had given them a scare. The St Helens-bound Lee Gilmour also made a major contribution with two quick tries as the Bulls, who had struggled for almost an hour, finished like potential champions.

Bradford had belied their status as Super League leaders and hot favourites in this match by conceding a try straight from the kick-off. Stuart Reardon fumbled the ball in the tackle and Andy Last, playing only because of Dean Treister's injury, ran wide from dummy-half and straightened up to find a gap.

Lee Radford's kick-off went dead to give Hull another chance, but Craig Greenhill lost the ball and the Bulls went to the other end for Vainikolo to muscle his way over. When Paul Anderson went over in similar style six minutes later, Bradford looked to have repaired the damage, but Hull had other ideas. Playing far better than recently, they changed the game's complexion again when Paul Cooke threw a precise pass to send Colin Betts over from the right for his 20th try of the season.

Hull continued to look dangerous, and they got further reward when Greenhill slipped the ball out of the tackle on the Bradford line and Richard Horne, shining back in his original position of scrum-half, planted it down. Cooke's second goal gave the visitors a six-point lead, but that was whittled down by Bradford's penalty. With Paul Deacon out injured and Radford off the field, however, James Lowes missed an easy kick that would have narrowed the gap further.

When Gareth Raynor scored from Richie Barnett's clever pass six minutes after the break, Hull had a 10-point lead and looked likely winners. But an obstruction penalty given against Hull proved pivotal, with Lowes getting the ball to Gilmour for the first of five tries. Vainikolo supplied the ball for Gilmour to claim his second, and the scores were level.

All the momentum was with Bradford, and Vainikolo bounced out of a series of tackles on the left for the try that put them ahead. Karl Pratt's 40-20 kick then created the position from which Jamie Langley made the points safe, but there was still time for Vainikolo to complete his hat-trick with two minutes left.

"We found a way to win when a lot of teams would have found a way to lose," said the Bulls' coach, Brian Noble.

Bradford: Reardon; Vaikona, Naylor, Hape, Vainikolo; Forshaw, Pratt; Vagana, Lowes, Anderson, Gartner, Peacock, Radford. Substitutes: Gilmour, Langley, Fielden, Parker.

Hull: Wilkinson; Best, Barnett, Yeaman, Raynor; Cooke, R Horne; Greenhill, Last, King, Maher, Ryan, Chester. Substitutes: Dowes, Fletcher, Lupton, Barker.

Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).