Provident supports the Bradford Bulls

In my last blog I covered the best and worst of the last seven Championship games (amongst other things).

Well the same could be said of their more recent games, this time far more important clashes in the Super 8s Qualifiers against Super League opposition.

TV Horror show

Following a comfortable 42-10 win in their opening match of the Super 8s against Sheffield Eagles, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats were next up at Belle Vue Stadium, televised live on Sky Sports TV.

‘Wakey’ had finished their Super league campaign rooted firmly to the bottom of the table with just three wins all season and a huge points difference of minus 527, five wins and 357 points worse than second bottom Salford Red Devils!

Game on……….or not, as it turned out!

In what I thought was a winnable game, Jimmy Lowes’ men produced an inexplicable, hapless display in a 48-18 defeat, a score line that probably flattered them.

With promotion back to the big time at stake they should have come out all guns blazing but Wakefield looked quicker, both on foot and in their general ball play, which is what you come to expect from a Super League outfit. But for them to also look far stronger and more motivated was not expected.

The man who is widely recognised as Bulls’ best player, Lee Gaskell, was forced off with a back injury after seven minutes and wouldn’t return. Would it have made a difference if he’d been around for the second half after Bulls had pulled the score line back to 30-12 after a 30-0 start? Who knows? But one man does not make a team and the gulf between the two sides, and two leagues, was supposedly apparent, particularly with Championship topping Leigh falling to a similar score line at Salford. Bulls looked far too bad to go up.

The following Sunday everything was flipped on its head!

Red Devils ‘Exorcised’ in Style

Salford and their outspoken owner, Marwan Koukash, entered the sun drenched Provident Stadium with many people on the terrace around me expecting them to give Bulls another lesson.

That didn’t stop the Bulls faithful producing a fantastic party atmosphere, and it didn’t stop the men in red, amber and black tearing up the form book and producing possibly their best performance in the three years Provident has been main sponsor!

As mentioned above the visitors had brushed aside the Championship steamroller that was Leigh Centurions at the A J Bell Stadium the previous week and had also defeated Bulls’ conquerors, Wakefield, 34-26.

Salford is a team with many stars. Ben Jones-Bishop, Junior Sa’u, Rangi Chase, Michael Dobson, Adrian Morley and Cory Paterson were on their team sheet – but they had no answer to the questions posed by the Bulls players, not one of whom put a foot wrong.

Strengthened at centre by new overseas signing Dane Nielson and orchestrated by the halves pairing of Jake Mullaney, who was in for the injured Gaskell, and Danny Addy, a fantastic 100% completion rate and 17-4 lead by the break could have been so much more had the Red Devils not defended their line so well.

My half time thought was ‘can they hold on?’ but I needn’t have worried as they came out still on fire and Mullaney scored his second try with a great solo effort. Addy, Clare and Purtell rounded off a superb showing from Jimmy Lowes’ men, destroying their Super League counterparts 41-10 and leaving me and those around me drooling at a superb display!

Coming up

The Super 8s Qualifiers table is tight but looks so much better for Bulls than it did after the Wakefield game.

Bulls lie in third spot with four points, same as Widnes in second who are the next opposition on 6th September at the Provident Stadium. The two week break is due to the Challenge cup final being played on Bank Holiday weekend. Let’s hope the momentum from last week isn’t lost and they can put in another superb shift in their quest to return to the big time!

Provident will certainly be helping to create another cracker of an atmosphere to help drive the boys on against the Vikings with all sorts of match day activities taking place, including t-shirt guns, photo frames and 5,000 thunder sticks we’ll be giving away to fans to make the Provident Stadium as noisy as possible!