The climax to the 2015 season for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Bradford Bulls arrives on Saturday when the two teams face off in the Million Pound Game. Wakefield have home advantage in the tie after finishing fourth in the Qualifiers, while Bradford, who are boosted with a fully fit squad to pick from, finished in fifth with notable wins over Salford Red Devils and Leigh Centurions. Both the Wildcats and Bulls finished their regular Qualifiers campaigns with a loss, but who will bounce back at the most perfect time?
Last Time Out
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats signed off in the middle eights with a loss to Sheffield Eagles at Bramall Lane. The Wildcats were second best in most parts of the field, and their final ball just seemed to be lacking as the try-line evaded them on numerous occasions. Scott Turner and Cory Aston scored the first two tries of the match to send Sheffield into a 10-0 lead but returning Wakefield captain Danny Kirmond replied in good fashion with a blind-side try. Menzie Yere and Ben Kavanagh exchanged scores for the hosts and visitors respectively before half-time hit, with the scoreline at 16-10 to Sheffield. The first points of the second half came in the final quarter through Pat Walker, who struck a penalty goal to extend his side’s lead to two scores. When James Davey fed Quentin Laulu-Togagae for a deserved four-pointer for the full-back, the result of the match was decided and Wakefield were left to lick their wounds in preparation for a massive encounter with Bradford this weekend.
Bradford Bulls were hammered in their own back yard by Halifax. James Lowes will have been fuming with his players after a very dismal performance ahead of the biggest game of the season. Matt Ryan opened the scoring for Bradford before Fax’s ball was set rolling with tries from Tommy Saxton and Steve Tyrer. A couple of Ryan Shaw tries for the hosts put them out in front once again but their lead was cut to two points by the break due to a last minute Dane Manning score. The second half belonged to Fax but it didn’t start in the best way for them, Ryan Maneely was sin-binned for a high tackle on 41 minutes. Many expected Bradford to pull away from then on in but that wasn’t to be the case, Saxton notched the go-ahead try while his side still had a numerical disadvantage. There was no looking back for The Shay side afterwards. Three tries in less than ten minutes killed the game as a contest, to the delight of the travelling Halifax fans. Tyrer scored his second try of the afternoon before Ben Johnston picked up two tries after slick combination work with Jacob Fairbank on both occasions. Adam Tangata, Ben Heaton and Tyrer once more scored tries before the final hooter sounded.
Both sides possess very good back-row forwards, and you need to look no further than Wakefield captain Danny Kirmond. Even though he’s been out of action for a while, his return at Sheffield last weekend was a good performance and his presence on the field helps Wakefield tenfold. The pick of the back-rowers for Bradford is Dale Ferguson. The Scotland international has been an ever-present in a Bulls side which came second in the Kingstone Press Championship this season. Tomorrow’s clash is sure to be one with blood and thunder in abundance, the back-rowers will provide that on their own.
Wakefield will go into this big game as favourites but Bradford won’t take any notice of what the bookmakers think. The Bulls have been building up to this game ever since they beat Leigh Centurions in the Qualifiers, can they pull it off when it really matters? Or will Wakefield, once again, defy those pre-season critics and pull yet another Super League survival out of the bag? – Wakefield by 10