Bulls look to boost play-off push
With their immediate off-field future looking more secure, Bradford Bulls will be seeking a tonic on the pitch when they take on Widnes Vikings at Odsal tomorrow.
The Bulls slipped out of the play-off places after being docked six points for going into administration and, although they have not given up hope of climbing back into the top eight, coach Mick Potter admits they can afford few slip-ups in the run-in.
Victory over the Vikings would set up a play-off for the play-offs against eighth-placed Hull KR, who meet Leeds Rhinos tomorrow before travelling to Odsal next Friday.
“This is a must-win, as they all potentially are,” Potter said.
“The week after we play Hull KR so we can claw two points back on them potentially.
“But, if we lose this one, we might as well forget about the 2102 season.
“It’s a dangerous game for us. Widnes have been going well and I’m glad we’ve got them at home. They’re improving all the time; they’re playing with a bit of confidence at the moment.
“They don’t want to finish off the bottom of the table and they’ve done well to get a few wins together.”
Hull KR kept alive their play-off hopes with a win at Widnes last Friday and Leeds coach Brian McDermott is expecting a difficult game at Craven Park tomorrow, especially after his own team’s six-match winning run came to an abrupt halt at the hands of Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on Monday.
“They beat us last season at Craven Park and they will have been watching on Monday night and fancying their chances to turn us over again,” McDermott said.
“We experienced a dip in form on Monday and, with hindsight, perhaps that was inevitable after the amount of big games we have played recently. But we now have a chance to begin another run of games and we need to take this opportunity.”
Leeds are boosted by the return from suspension of half-back Danny McGuire, who needs two tries to draw level with former team-mate Keith Senior as Super League’s all-time leading tryscorer on 199.
“We certainly missed Danny on Monday and he has been welcomed back this week,” said McDermott.
Huddersfield Giants coach Paul Anderson is hoping some harsh words in training this week will do the trick as he looks to end his side’s dramatic slump when Catalan Dragons visit the John Smith’s Stadium.
The Giants have slipped from top spot to seventh after winning just one of their last 10 league games and another defeat tomorrow could put their play-off hopes in jeopardy.
“This week we have had some real honest talks and got some things out in the open about what is expected,” said Anderson, who will be in charge for the third time since succeeding Nathan Brown.
“We went out there last week and thought we were trying hard but the reality is we were kidding ourselves.
“Maybe I have been guilty of letting the players down in looking at the bigger picture rather than the finer detail and I hold my hands up to that.
“We have tried to highlight some of the real basic things that we have been letting ourselves down on.
“At times you can accept not winning if you know the players have been giving their all because as a team we need to give everything we can.
“At the moment we can’t say that we have been doing that, which is something that we need to turn round.”
Neither Castleford Tigers nor Wakefield can make the play-offs, but there will be no shortage of incentive in tomorrow’s derby at the PROBIZ Coliseum.
With the Tigers winning at Wakefield on Good Friday before losing at the Magic Weekend, bragging rights will be up for grabs.
Wakefield are in the ascendancy after securing back-to-back wins over Huddersfield and Leeds, but their Castleford-born hooker Kyle Wood is expecting a tough contest.
“I think it will be a massive game,” he said. “We’ve got a bit of good form behind us and they’re going off a bit of bad form so will come out firing.
“I think they’ll make it into a big game for them and be eyeing the win up. We’ve got to keep the same form and keep putting the effort in like we have been doing and I think we’ll do well.”