Wildcats boost survival hopes

Official English Super League ROund 20 game report - Sunday 10 July 2005. Full time: Wakefield 44 Bradford 34.

Wildcats boost survival hopes

Wakefield did their survival hopes the world of good by overcoming Bradford 44-34 in a thoroughly absorbing encounter played out in sweltering conditions at the Atlantic Solutions Stadium.

In a seesaw battle the lead switched hands regularly throughout and the outcome was only decided when substitute Jamie Rooney crossed for his second try in the very last minute.

The result gives new coach Tony Smith his first victory since succeeding Shane McNally in the Wakefield hotseat, and means next weekend's trip to Widnes is more or less a must-win game for the Vikings as they bid to avoid the drop from the engage Super League.

For the Bulls Karl Pratt scored a hat-trick of touchdowns but his side were left to rue Wakefield breaking out of defence to score three tries from their own 20-metre area.

Bradford had taken the lead with barely a minute on the clock, as Paul Deacon broke through the centre of the field and Michael Withers was on his shoulder to touch down.

Deacon's conversion made it 6-0 but the Wildcats hit back with an equalising score seven minutes later when Ben Jeffries sent Duncan Macgillivary over, with March adding the extras.

A penalty goal from David March, after Jamie Peacock had offended in the tackle, then gave Wakefield a slender two-point advantage.

Midway through the first half came 60 seconds that could prove so important in the Wildcats? attempt to pull clear at the foot of the table.

Some great cover defence helped keep the Bulls at bay, leading to Deacon threading through a grubber kick on the last tackle.

With Paul Johnson and Pratt hunting the loose ball Wildcats full-back Colum Halpenny plucked the ball out of the air and raced 95 metres to score despite a spirited chase from Peacock and Johnson.

A superb touchline goal from March extended the lead to eight points although the Bulls hit back shortly after when Deacon dummied his way through for a converted try to reduce the arrears to just two points.

The game was being played at a frantic pace, which was testament to both sets of players given the tropical conditions, and on the half-hour mark the Wildcats registered their second long-range score of the half.

Winger Semi Tadulala side-stepped his way through the defensive line on his own 20-metre line and raced half the length of the pitch before offloading to Jeffries, who jinked back inside to score with March again goaling to make it 20-12 to Wakefield.

Brian Noble's charges showed their metal though with two tries in the last couple of minutes of the first half from winger Pratt.

The first came after quick hands from Leon Pryce, the second from a Iestyn Harris break, with Deacon continuing his fine work with the boot to give his side a 24-20 lead at the interval.

The home side would have felt hard done by to have gone in behind despite playing so well and they responded by regaining the lead seven minutes into the second period when March fed Michael Korkidas, who barged his way over from close range for a converted score.

The Bulls hit the front on the hour mark again, when a Withers kick was collected well by Pratt who only had to fall to the ground to score. Deacon was unable to convert and the home side took advantage by crossing for two quick-fire tries that put them in the driving seat.

Jeffries cut through to touch down by the posts before Rooney finished off yet another long-range try despite Stuart Reardon's best efforts.

March added both goals to give his side some breathing space at 38-28, and although Myers' late effort reduced the gap to four points, Rooney's second score in the dying seconds ensured the home fans went home happy.

Wakefield: Halpenny, M. Field, Demetriou, Domic, Tadulala, Jeffries, Obst, Griffin, March, Korkidas, Solomona, MacGillivray, J. Field. Replacements: Rooney, Snitch, Elima, Wrench.

Bradford: Withers, Reardon, B. Harris, Johnson, Pratt, I. Harris, Deacon, Vagana, Henderson, Fielden, Peacock, Meyers, Radford. Replacements: L. Pryce, Langley, Parker, Lynch.

Wakefield: 44 (20) Tries: MacGillivray, Halpenny, Jeffries 2, Korkidas, Rooney 2. Goals: March 8.

Bradford: 34 (24) Tries: Withers, Deacon, Pratt 3, Meyers. Goals: Deacon 5.

Referee: Karl Kirkpatrick (Warrington) Attendance: 5,954

Thanks to http://www.superleague.co.uk/ for this great article.