Wakefield 20 Bradford 42: Pryce leads Bulls' charge to leave Wakefield facing drop

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Coachless and increasingly hopeless, Wakefield slid a little closer to relegation from Super League with an inept first-half performance against Bradford last night. The Wildcats belied their well-earned reputation as a first-half side with a truly dreadful first 40 minutes that left them adrift by 24 points just before the break.

"We showed a lot of spirit, but the game was won in the first half," said the Wakefield chief executive, Steve Ferres, who took charge of team affairs this week after the departure of Tony Smith.

"It was the worst week I have had in 35 years of rugby league," he added before saying that he hopes to announce a new coach next week, although that looks increasingly unlikely to be Salford's assistant, James Lowes, who is near the top of the wanted list.

The question is, after seven defeats in eight games, whether there is time for anyone to save them. They started off with a string of mistakes and conceded tries at regular intervals, to Karl Pryce twice, Jamie Langley and Lesley Vainikolo, with the kicking and passing accuracy of Iestyn Harris the key factor.

There were signs of life immediately before half-time for Wakefield when the former Bradford centre Ryan Atkins got over from David Solomona's pass. The Wakefield players delivered their own pep talk at half-time, and it yielded some modest results when Solomona and Atkins combined for a second try.

But having got a slight foothold in the game, Wakefield conceded two quick penalties to put themselves under pressure, and Langley scored his second try.

Solomona's fumble then gave a gift try to Ian Henderson, before Wakefield produced another brief flurry of resistance. That yielded two tries from Jamie Rooney, but they were far too late to make any difference, and Shontayne Hape's try put them firmly in their place, which is two points shy of Wigan and uncomfortably close to the exit.

The Bradford coach and former Wakefield player, Steve McNamara, delivered some words of comfort. "They have far too many talented players to go down," he said. But the Super League table says otherwise.

Wakefield: Halpenny, Demetriou, Atkins, Evans, Tadulala, Jeffries, Rooney, Korkidas, Betham, MacGillivray, Solomona, Catic, Field. Substitutes used: Obst, Griffin, Elima, Watene.

Bradford: St Hilaire, Vainikolo, Hape, Pryce, Bai, Harris, Deacon, Vagana, Newton, Lynch, McKenna, Ferres, Langley. Substitutes used: Meyers, Burgess, Henderson, Cook.

Referee: P Bentham (Warrington).