NEITHER SIDE will have been happy about this being labelled a relegation four-pointer just two games into the season – but Super League quality it definitely wasn’t.
Bradford Bulls’ 23-10 victory at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats could prove hugely important, particularly if – as expected – they are deducted points next week following their recent spell in administration.
Wildcats could have put a solid buffer between themselves and their West Yorkshire rivals, but they squandered their chance. They looked nervous and tentative and only showed real urgency in brief spells when Bulls were a couple of scores clear.
Bradford were the better team, despite losing stand-off Lee Gaskell to an ankle injury in the opening few moments.
That’s not saying much though. It was a game marred by some of the most basic of errors and lacking in any real quality or entertainment value.
There was controversy over the opening try, which came after 11 minutes. Adrian Purtell got over the line from Chev Walker’s pass, with Danny Kirmond trying to hold him up. Referee Robert Hicks handed the decision on and video officials Ian Smith and Steve Ganson decided it was a try, but Jamie Foster hit a post with his conversion attempt.
Dean Collis’ excellent pass, which was finished by Peter Fox to square the scores after 23, was a rare bright moment amid the dross.
Paul Sykes fluffed the relatively straightforward conversion attempt and Bulls went back in front nine minutes later, Brett Kearney crossing from Luke Gale’s offload after back-to-back penalties.
Kirmond got over the whitewash four minutes before the break, but the video referees correctly ruled he hadn’t got the ball down. Of the game’s many blunders, Reece Lyne’s – on 46 minutes – was the most costly. He lost the ball 20 out from his own line, Gale snapped it up and fed Adam Henry.
The centre made good ground and hurled a pass infield, Luke George – against one of his former clubs – picking up and speeding over close enough to the posts for Foster to add the extras.
That made the gap 12 points, which seemed enough. But Wakefield gave themselves a chance when Ali Lauitiiti stormed over from Pita Godinet’s pass with 25 minutes left.
That came after Danny Addy had been penalised and placed on report for an alleged crusher tackle on Jarrod Sammut, making his Wildcats debut six days after leaving Bradford.
Sammut added the extras and was denied a try by Walker’s tackle moments later, the video referees ruling he was grounded short of the line.
Only six points adrift with a quarter of the game remaining, Wakefield could have got something out of it, but they rarely threatened and some woeful defence was exploited by Adam O’Brien, who spotted a gap and zoomed over from acting-half on 65.
Foster converted and missed a penalty from half-way before Gale sealed two precious points with a drop goal two minutes from time.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Mathers, Fox, Collis, Ryan, Lyne, Sykes, Godinet, Anderson, McShane, Smith, Lauitiiti, Kirmond, Washbrook. Subs (all used) Raleigh, Tautai, Sammut, Walshaw.
Bradford Bulls: Kearney, George, Henry, Purtell, Foster, Gaskell, Gale, Scruton, Diskin, Sidlow, Bridge, Walker, Donaldson. Subs (all used) Manuokafoa, O’Brien, Addy, Mullally.
Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).