Bulls bid to bounce back from latest blow
Bradford Bulls’ players will find themselves in a familiar routine tomorrow when they run out at Warrington Wolves for their latest match against a background of uncertainty.
Up to this week the players were largely protected from the effects of administration with the club ensuring their wages were paid on time, but the imposition of a six-point penalty has directly hit their hopes of making the Stobart Super League play-offs.
In one fell swoop, the Bulls dropped out of the top eight, two points adrift of Hull KR, but coach Mick Potter believes his players will continue to thrive on adversity.
“The spirit is fine and the guys are up for playing every week,” he said.
“I think it’s probably been a bit of an outlet for them, something for them to take their frustrations out on.
“And probably because of that, they are really enjoying their football at the moment. We know it’s not ideal but we will prepare for this game as we have for the others.
“It’s not impossible to make the eight. It makes it harder and we are aware of that but we will just keep turning up and doing what we do.
“The players are very resilient and determined and this adversity has not only brought them closer together but it’s bought a new confidence on the field and it has been producing results for us.”
Warrington coach Tony Smith believes the points deduction will only serve to make the Bulls more determined than ever to strive for the win.
“They will feel aggrieved by the points deduction,” he said. “They have certainly used the rest of the adversity that they have had this year as motivation so no doubt they’ll add that onto the pile of motivation they already have.”
Smith’s men need the two points to keep in touch with leaders Wigan Warriors, who opened up a five-point gap following their 40-16 win over Castleford Tigers last night.
The Wolves have already beaten Bradford twice this year, including a Carnegie Challenge Cup-tie at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, and Potter knows his team will have their work cut out preventing a hat-trick of defeats.
“They are a quality team,” he said. “You have got to account for every minute of the 80 minutes.
“They have got probably one of the best Super League squads that has been assembled for 10 years.
“I think they are in cruise mode at the moment. I don’t think we have seen the best of them. I hope they remain in cruise mode this weekend.”
Hull KR and Salford City Reds, whose flagging top-eight hopes received a boost with Bradford’s points deduction, will be looking to take advantage when they visit Widnes Vikings and Hull FC respectively tomorrow.
Hull revived their play-off ambitions with Monday’s derby triumph which coach Peter Gentle insists they must build on.
“We’ve got a good shot at finishing in the top six now,” he said. “It’s in our own hands; we don’t have to worry about other results, which is pleasing.
“With what we’ve gone through this year, the amount of players we’ve used and the amount of disruption we’ve had, that would be an acceptable finish I think and to get a home semi-final would be nice.
“To give ourselves a shot at that though, we’ve got to build on the win against Hull KR.
“The players don’t need me to tell them that. On the bus coming back from KR, the boys were talking about building on that performance and how it would mean nothing if we didn’t win on Sunday.”
Hull KR are in freefall with four consecutive defeats but Widnes coach Denis Betts is warning his team to prepare for a difficult test.
“Regardless of recent results, Hull KR are a very good side,” Betts said. “They have got fantastic strike players and two front rowers who have played at State of Origin level.
“Craig (Sandercock) is a really good coach and I know he will be working hard to get a response this week.”
Another coach looking for a response from his under-performing players is Paul Anderson, whose first match in charge of Huddersfield Giants ended in a 35-14 home defeat by Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
The Giants face a difficult task at St Helens tomorrow night but Anderson is confident they can get their play-off bid back on track.
“This group is not going to lay down and curl over and just wait for the end of the season,” he said.
“We’ve got to get them firing again. They’ve gone through a couple of weeks of turbulence and we have to put some smiles on faces and get people enjoying themselves again.
“Let’s have some fun and on the back of that we can breed some confidence. We’ve got to enjoy ourselves. That’s what you’ve got to do when your backs are against the wall.”