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Bradford Bulls boss Francis Cummins plots three-mendous finale
Francis Cummins has predicted a few more “twists and turns” ahead as the Bulls bid to defy the odds and sneak into the play-offs.
Cummins’ men head to Castleford tomorrow knowing they must win their remaining three games and hope other results go in their favour if they are claim a top-eight finish.
The Bulls coach remains optimistic about his side’s prospects of reaching the play-offs for the first time since 2008 ahead of matches against Castleford, London and Huddersfield.
Bradford have a significantly better points difference over eighth-placed Hull KR but must hope the Robins slip up in their three remaining games.
Hull FC and Catalan Dragons are also not yet assured of a play-off spot with the Bulls mathematically capable of finishing above them both.
Cummins, whose side are aiming to bounce back from last weekend’s home defeat to the Dragons, said: “I’m sure there are going to be some twists and turns ahead but it doesn’t change what we’ve got to do.
"We’ve got to win all our remaining games and we’ll see where that takes us, although we are probably 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 tomorrow.”
The Tigers have shown signs of steady improvement since Daryl Powell took over from Ian Millward earlier in the season.
Powell’s side won 42-38 at Widnes last weekend and have scored at least 30 points in each of their last three outings.
Cummins said: “They are a much-improved team under Daryl and they got a good win at Widnes last weekend.
“They have some players who can really play in their side, so we know we have to defend well as we know they are a team that can score tries.
“If we stand off and let them play then they will do what they have done to a lot of teams this year and that is score points.”
Powell returned to Super League after a ten-year absence in May when he quit Featherstone to take the reins at Wheldon Road.
Cummins is an admirer of his former boss, having played under him at Leeds during Powell’s previous top-flight post.
“I very much enjoyed playing under Daryl,” said Cummins. “He was a very good coach back then and he still is.
“There is no doubt that Castleford’s upturn in form has coincided with Daryl’s appointment.
“They leaked some points at Widnes last week but in general their defence has got a lot better.
“If you’re willing to stand off and let them play then they will.
“They’ve got some great talent in their ranks and I’m pleased for Daryl as well because he’s got a shot at Super League again and is doing a great job.”
Ex-Great Britain star Powell, 48, was in charge at Leeds from 2001 to 2003 before making way for Tony Smith.
“A few of the senior players at Leeds let Daryl down but his record was good – getting to a Challenge Cup final against Bradford in 2003 – and it was a young side,” remembered Cummins.
“He had a tough time, and some of the stick he received was from people who should have known better, but I’m sure he took a lot from it and became more thick-skinned.
“Daryl and his players will want to finish as high as possible in the table, so we are going to have to earn everything we get from this game.
“All rugby league players have tremendous personal pride and that doesn’t change.”
England stand off Rangi Chase, who is expected to join Salford at the end of the season, is a major threat attacking threat for Castleford.
Cummins acknowledged: “Rangi is a very good player; something special but if you start thinking you need to put three or four players on him he will pick off a pass.
“You need big defence against him because if you leave it man on man then he is liable to beat that man himself.”
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