Wakefield Trinity Senior U19s Academy came through a stern test against the Bradford Bulls in a hard-fought fixture played in wintry conditions.
After a gruelling pre-season, which has seen the Academy record friendly victories over Championship One team Hemel Stags and a powerful Halifax Reserves, coupled with notable performances in First Team friendlies against Dewsbury and Featherstone it was down to business in the Super League Academy opener.
Playing up the hill at Sandal RU the Wakefield side got off to a flyer when Half Back Christian Ackroyd spotted a gap and cut between two defenders to score just to the side of the posts. Luke Hooley opened his Wakefield account with a well struck conversion and Trinity lead 6 – 0.
Wakefield’s strong running forwards were causing the Bulls defence problems and back to back penalties gave the home team good field position from which debutant Tyron Travis capitalised with a powerful surge to the try line for Wakefield’s second try. A difficult conversion sailed just outside the near post and the score remained at 10 – 0 in favour of Trinity’s U19s.
Bradford fought hard to get back into the match and won a couple of penalties with strong committed forward play. Enjoying their first period of pressure they capitalised on good field position with an astute kick into Wakefield’s in goal and their lively Loose Forward won the race to touch down for a try, the easy conversion was good and the scores were 10 -6 to Trinity.
Wakefield responded well with Tyron Travis going close after a 50m kick downfield and a great chase had forced Bradford to drop out from under their posts. Then came the try of the match with Hooker Sam Blake jumping out from dummy half before finding Liam Senior who hit a superb line to cut through the Bulls defence. Senior made good metres, drew the Bradford Full Back and handed on to the ever-supporting Luke Hooley who went 40m to score under the posts. Hooley converted his own try to give Wakefield a 16 – 6 lead.
Bradford wouldn’t lie down though and aided by some sloppy play and indiscipline from Wakefield they found themselves in a good attacking position allowing their Left Centre to step inside his opposite number and score their second try, the conversion was good and the scores were 16 – 12 in favour of Wakefield.
Bradford closed out the first Half scoring when more indiscipline from Wakefield gave them an easily taken penalty meaning the teams left the field at 16 – 14 to the Trinity U19s.
Bradford started the second half strongly and fashioned a good break on Wakefield’s right edge but solid defence forced the error. Another superb break by Bradford’s backs had Wakefield scrambling, the Bulls looked to have done enough but, even without injured flyer Elliott Caine, Trinity’s pacey backline had too much speed and ran them down preventing Bradford from snatching the lead.
Stunned into action by Bradford’s fast start to the half, Wakefield finally got into gear. Strong drives from Harvey Hallas and Aaron York gave Trinity the field position for Christian Ackroyd to cleverly drop James Batchelor on his inside and he tipped the ball onto Luke Hooley to step the Full Back and claim his second try which he also converted. Wakefield Trinity 22 – 14 Bradford Bulls
Aaron York went close to extending Wakefield’s lead only to spill the ball as he reached for the line.
Wakefield then fell afoul of the Referees whistle and conceded a number of penalties forcing the official to put the home side on a team warning. As in the first half, the spirited Bradford Academy fought to get back in the game and scored from close in when their dummy half dived over for a try which proved to wide out to convert. Wakefield Trinity 22 – 18 Bradford Bulls.
Committed and sometimes brutal defence was on show from both teams but it was Wakefield who emerged the stronger with Front Rowers Aaron Gledhill and Lewis Wray making good metres, the latter forcing his way over for what looked like the match clinching touchdown only for the Referee to rule him held up.
Right Wing Lee Kershaw continually punished the Bulls with surging runs in the middle and with another bustling carry from Gledhill putting Bradford on the backfoot Christian Ackroyd showed his class dummying his way through the line before a neat double step off either foot took him past the flailing Bulls Full Back to score his second of the match. Luke Hooley converted and Wakefield finally looked to have the winning margin that had eluded them throughout the game.
Wakefield weren’t finished though and a towering kick forced an error from Bradford, Luke Hooley picked up the loose ball and handed onto Sam Blake who drew the last defender before sending Henry Hiddlestone in under the sticks.
The final score was Wakefield Trinity U19s 32 Vs 18 Bradford Bulls U19s
There were notable performances from Christian Ackroyd and Harvey Hallas with Luke Hooley scoring a total of 16 points on his debut for Trinity.
WAKEFIELD TRINITY: Hooley; Caine, Cloete, Travis, Kershaw; Colthorpe, Aykroyd; Gledhill, Hiddleston, Wray, Senior, Batchlor; York.
INTERCHANGE: Brown, Blake, Hallas, Jones.
WAKEFIELD TRIES: Aykroyd 2 (3, 76), Travis (8), Hooley 2 (23, 45), Hiddleston (79).
WAKEFIELD GOALS: Hooley 4/6.
BRADFORD BULLS: Stephenson; Butterworth, Panter, Wood, Rickett; Milnes, Wilson; Foster, Butterworth, Hodgson, Moxon, Vaznys; Fletcher.
INTERCHANGE: Thomas, Wilson, Lightowler, Wilkinson.