DEWSBURY RAMS hero Paul Sykes was at it again yesterday making life miserable for his old club Bradford Bulls.
In dramatic circumstances, the ex-Great Britain star came up with the match-winning penalty after the final hooter as Glenn Morrison’s side stunned their promotion-chasing rivals.
Sykes had already broken Bradford hearts with a definitive drop-goal to knock them out of the Challenge Cup earlier this season and here he was leaving their Championship top-four hopes in serious doubt, too.
But he could not believe his luck when gifted the chance of glory in some crazy final moments.
Dewsbury had been under pressure throughout the second period, unsurprisingly given they were on the back of a 12-1 penalty county.
They had led 14-6 at half-time against their full-time opponents, who had been truly atrocious in that first period, but then saw Danny Addy level the contest with a penalty just 50 seconds from time. That should have been that, the points shared.
However, after the re-start, for some reason known only to himself, Bradford prop Adam Sidlow tried chipping out of his own 20-metre area with a desperate, needless act.
To compound the incredulous tactic, he then shoved Dewsbury winger Dalton Grant when chasing the ball down – and referee Warren Turley awarded a penalty just before the hooter sounded.
Sykes, who played more than 100 games for Bradford in two spells, duly slotted the kick just short of the 40-metre mark leaving him and his colleagues ecstatic.
This win was just as important for part-timers Dewsbury and Morrison, himself a former Odsal star who operated alongside Sykes there for two years in 2008 and 2009.
They had been falling dangerously close to the relegation zone but this win has revived them and it was the least they deserved.
Grady’s try in the 20th minute after a smart runaround from Dom Speakman got them off the mark and there was a second effort from Josh Guzdek after Scott Hale’s fine break.
Sykes improved both and added a penalty in the 40th minute, Bradford’s only response being Jay Pitts’ 25th minute converted effort – barely the only time they managed to hold onto the ball.
Adam O’Brien’s introduction improved Bradford and when he was high tackled, Addy slotted a 53rd minute penalty to get to within one score.
Dewsbury were soon put on a team warning after conceding six successive penalties but Bradford spilled the ball in their 20 yet again.
Addy and Epalahame Lauaki went close before Dewsbury conceded another penalty – but there was still no card – and then O’Brien finally twisted over in the 61st minute.
Crucially, though, Addy pulled his conversion wide and the visitors kept hanging on – even when Turley gave a second team warning and, bizarrely, still did not sin-bin any Dewsbury player.
The official finally did in the 80th minute when Nathan Conroy was penalised for a high tackle on Mitch Clark, Addy levelling the game.
But then came that sheer madness on Bradford’s part… and elation for Sykes, Morrison and co.
Bradford Bulls: Clare; Williams, Walshaw, Welham, Caro; Mathers, Thomas; Crossley, Addy, Clark, Olbison, Ferguson, Pitts. Substitutes: O’Brien, Sidlow, Lauaki, Haggerty.
Dewsbury Rams: Guzdek; Morton, Crookes, Grady, Grant; Sykes, Kain; Groat, Speakman, Trout, Spicer, Hale. Adamson. Substitutes: Brown, Conroy, Muranka, Hepworth.
Referee: Warren Turley (Leigh).