Bulls face must-win clash
Bradford Bulls are in the last-chance saloon as they seek to maintain their slender hopes of a Super League play-off spot.
The shock win by eighth-placed Hull KR at Leeds Rhinos last night has increased the pressure on the Bulls, who need to win each of their last three matches, starting with the visit to Castleford Tigers tomorrow, and hope Rovers lose their last two fixtures.
Bradford, who have not been in the play-offs for five years, had hauled themselves back into contention with back-to-back wins over Hull FC and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats but last Sunday's 23-22 home defeat by Catalan Dragons was a major setback.
"We are still in a similar position," Bulls coach Francis Cummins said. "We need to win our last three games but we are relying on others to slip up now.
"We know we will have to play very well to achieve that and it will be difficult at Castleford on Sunday.
"They are a much-improved team under Daryl (Powell) and they got a good win at the weekend.
"We've been playing play-off football for a few weeks now and we know what we have got to do.
"We need to get this one right early and we can't rely on Castleford not having anything to play for.
"Rugby league players are not like that. They all have tremendous personal pride and that doesn't change. They will want to finish has high as possible in the table.
"We are going to have to earn everything we get from this game."
Powell, who has guided his team to four wins from his 11 matches in charge, is expecting a close-fought derby.
"They've got some good things going for them and we recognise that we're going to have to play really well to beat them.
"They're above us in the table and are one of the teams that we want to chip away at, so it's a crucial game from that point of view."
Hull KR's latest win ended Wakefield's lingering hopes of repeating their heroics of 2012, when they won their last seven matches to clinch the last play-off spot, so they will be playing for pride against form team St Helens tomorrow.
Saints have won six of their last seven matches to climb into fifth spot with three games to play but coach Nathan Brown is expecting a tough test from the Wildcats, who he reckons are a better side than recent results suggest.
"They have only just lost a number of times to good teams and that suggests they are a dangerous team," he said.
"I think they carry more threat than a number of teams and the issue has been, like other teams, that their key players haven't played a lot of games this year.
"But to beat Wakefield you have to play well. They have quality with Danny Kirmond, Tim Smith, Kyle Amor and such so if you don't play well you will lose the game."