A top four spot is looking as close to a certainty as you can get in sport and I reckon the advantageous top two is easily within the Bradford Bulls’ grasp. Their momentum of 16 straight wins, along with their incredible supporters, is carrying them into the business end of the season with much confidence.
The Challenge Cup is done and dusted with a hard fought 50-30 reverse against Super League’s Hull KR, in which Bulls led 30-28 with less than a quarter of the game left so, as the cliché goes, it’s now time to concentrate on the very important league campaign!
Successive games against South Yorkshire opposition produced the same desired outcome – a win – but off the back of two very different performances.
A Poor Performance From The Bulls
A poor defensive performance from the Bulls against a spirited Doncaster side gave them a few scares in a game that saw a total of 94 points scored at the Keepmoat Stadium (also home of Doncaster Rovers Football Club). The Dons, who lie at the bottom of the Championship table, scored two quick tries early in the second half to make it ‘game on,’ with Bulls holding a narrow lead at 34-26. Thankfully the Bulls responded with three of their own within eight minutes to put the game to bed, 56-38.
The Best Performance Of The Season
A week later and Jimmy Lowes’ men shone at the Provident Stadium, Odsal, with what I would say is their best performance of the season so far, ending in a 46-12 score line. Led by an outstanding Adam O’Brien and two tries from the in-form Dale Ferguson, Sheffield Eagles were put to the sword with clinical ease.
Unfortunately, the record-setting Bulls away following had to endure another under-par showing, this time at Whitehaven. “Niggly, error-strewn and downright ugly at times” was one verdict of their 32-16 win. The Cumbrian side’s desire and physical approach seemed to rattle Jimmy Lowes’ men with a 16-0 first half lead, courtesy of two Adrian Purtell tries, wiped out within ten minutes of the restart. But once again (and thankfully for the Bulls), quality and fitness ultimately told and Danny Williams late brace secured the victory to maintain the four point cushion between them in second place and Sheffield in third.
Gunning for top spot
The Bulls’ only defeat of the season was in round one against current table toppers, Leigh Centurions. Since then Leigh have a 100% record but the tables may be turning!
At the start of the season, I had London Broncos as contenders for a top four spot and whilst they have taken longer than I expected to find some consistent form, they have certainly shown signs, in particular against the league leaders, which I’ll come to.
For their 13th straight league victory Bulls secured the double over London at the Hive (again, home of another football club, Barnet).
The home team’s 46-6 mauling of third place Sheffield at Summer Bash last week meant a tough test was to be expected so with the Bulls finding themselves 12-0 down in the first half, it wasn’t a major surprise. Bradford then woke up and levelled things by half time before pulling away in the second half, with the final score of 36-18.
What makes this result impressive is that whilst the Bulls were busy mauling Doncaster 72-6 the following Sunday, London produced their result of the season in defeating Leigh 29-20, helping the Bulls to joint top.
Wiping Out Points Differences
Whilst I and many of the Provident Stadium faithful were keeping an eye on the score in the capital, Jimmy Lowes’ rampant team were busy wiping out much of Leigh’s points difference advantage as well. After an error-strewn first 40 minutes, the second half, led by Danny Williams, was all one way traffic. Three of Williams’ four touchdowns contributed to ten scores after the break, four within 13 minutes as the Bulls cruised to victory.
So, any weekend now could see the top two swap places, which might explain why both teams appeared to have a case of the jitters the week after.
Despite an early scare, Leigh edged a fiery encounter at Batley, who I remember had also made Bulls work hard for their win back in March. Meanwhile, Bradford struggled against Dewsbury Rams, and in his post-match conference Lowes described his team’s performance as “rubbish” in scraping a 22-18 win.
I had to agree – probably the worst I’ve seen from them this year, however, but that shouldn’t detract from former Bulls player Glenn Morrison’s Rams putting in the best showing of any visiting team so far this season, taking a 12-0 half time lead. Adrian Purtell continued his outstanding form this season to lead the fightback with two tries. One could sense the relief that on the day the Club celebrated the 20th anniversary of Bradford Northern becoming Bradford Bulls they didn’t undo the previous weeks progress.
A Possible League Leaders Decider
The last six weeks of the regular season are going to be very interesting, particularly with Leigh visiting the Provident Stadium for Bulls’ last home game, a possible league leaders decider with plenty of fire to it after the first encounter!
And then there’s the Super 8s play-offs which should see big crowds, big drama and loads at stake – I, for one, can’t wait! If you want a reminder of the format then just see my previous blog.
Fans loving our sponsorship activities
As well as our 40 VIP Bulls Bus winners, we’ve been doing a lot more through our ‘Supporting Bulls Supporters’ activities.
The feedback we’ve had has been fantastic:
“……we’re very privileged to have Provident as a sponsor for the Bulls…..looking after the team on the field and the fans off. I doubt anyone else in Rugby League is even half as lucky as we are! Thank you.”
27th May 2015
“Thank you guys for a great weekend it was awesome.”
25th May 2015
Find out more for yourself at https://www.facebook.com/supportingbulls