Pride after fall as Bradford Bulls come up just short

Pride after fall as Bradford Bulls come up just short

Nick Scruton tries to burrow his way forward for the Bulls against Castleford

Bulls v Castleford match action

Bulls v Castleford match action

Bulls v Castleford match action

Bulls v Castleford match action

Bulls v Castleford match action

First published in Sport
Last updated
Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Bradford Bulls Reporter

Bradford Bulls 18, Castleford Tigers 36

As Francis Cummins assessed his side’s defeat yesterday, there was one overwhelming positive from which he could take solace.

“I’m proud of the effort because we had a team who were fully committed,” reflected the Bulls coach.

“The people in this club right now have got character and they showed it again.”

Cummins bemoaned his side’s errors in the final quarter as Castleford ran away with the game courtesy of three late tries.

Crucially, however, he could not fault the spirit.

After a week in which Garreth Carvell and Jarrod Sammut walked out on the club, the significance of that could not be overstated.

The Bulls coach did not mention either player by name following their departure from Odsal.

Then again, he did not need to.

It was clear that from the players who remain, there is a collective desire on which Bradford’s fight against relegation will be founded.

Cummins could see his team docked Super League points this week following the administration of OK Bulls Ltd, the club’s former holding company, on January 31.

The ownership of the club is also hanging in the balance after Richard Lamb spoke over the weekend of his intention to take this famous rugby league institution forward.

The current board, under the guise of Bradford Bulls 2014 Ltd, would appear favourites to be given the green light to lead the club on a permanent basis.

Chairman Mark Moore used his programme notes to talk about a “five-year plan” to make the club sustainable and ultimately profitable.

There are other parties interested in taking ownership of the Bulls and the outcome will effectively shape the club’s future.

Cummins, for his part, can only focus on on-field matters and victory looked possible for the best part of an hour yesterday before that trio of late tries handed Castleford the points.

The return of Brett Kearney was a massive boost for the Bulls after he missed all three friendlies following his recovery from an operation on his sternoclavicular joint.

The departure of Sammut on Friday meant Lee Gaskell made his debut in his favoured position of stand-off alongside Luke Gale.

Gaskell dovetailed effectively with Gale in the first half in particular and the former St Helens man showed class with some clever kicking and neat handling.

There was also a Super League bow for fellow new recruits Adam Henry and Danny Bridge.

The visitors included former Bulls captain Andy Lynch in their starting line-up, while close-season signings Marc Sneyd, Liam Finn and Frankie Mariano were also in coach Daryl Powell’s squad.

A sizeable contingent of Castleford supporters made the short trip along the M62 hoping to see a repeat of their side’s 66-10 friendly win a fortnight earlier.

But with Kearney in the side, the Bulls always looked a more assured outfit and he was typically pivotal in helping them to get on the front foot.

After Castleford were caught offside, Bradford led in the fourth minute when, from the subsequent penalty, the ball was worked cleverly across the face of the visiting defence.

Adam Sidlow found Gaskell to his right and the former St Helens man in turn sent the marauding Danny Addy barrelling over the line.

Jamie Foster added the extras and belief grew in the home players and crowd that this could be the Bulls’ day.

Four minutes later they threatened a second when Adrian Purtell intercepted Weller Hauraki’s errant pass on the Bulls’ ten-metre line.

The Australian centre showed a decent turn of pace to make 50 metres before his progress was halted by the cover defence.

Purtell’s early effervescence was exemplified when he chased a kick and forced Justin Carney into his own in-goal area, making Castleford drop out from under their posts.

Still the Bulls continued to probe and in the 13th minute Elliot Kear displayed his defensive awareness with an outstanding tackle to bring down Daryl Clark as the highly-rated hooker threatened to outstrip the home side.

Yet there was no denying that, with Matt Diskin, Gale and Gaskell all combining well, the Bulls looked the more potent in attack.

Castleford refused to buckle once more and they held firm again when Addy took another smart pass from Gale before being tackled just short of the line.

A teasing grubber kick from Gaskell into the left corner was intended for Foster but it was overcooked and the opportunity was lost.

Castleford continued to enjoy brief purple patches and it was to Bradford’s credit that they defended so doggedly.

With Scruton and Sidlow having laid a solid platform for the Bulls during the opening quarter, they were replaced by Manase Manuokafoa and Chev Walker respectively.

Seven minutes before the break, the visitors hit back when Hauraki collected possession 20 metres out and past Gaskell to score all too easily.

Kirk Dixon added the extras to make it 6-6 at the break – but three minutes after the restart, Gale’s crafty kick was not dealt with and Foster was on hand to ground the loose ball.

He added a fine conversion but two minutes later Castleford were level again when Manase Manuokafoa’s attempted offload was seized upon.

An exquisite offload from Finn cut out the Bulls’ left-edge defence and sent Dixon diving over in the right corner for a try he expertly converted.

Remarkably, however, Bradford hit back three minutes later when Gale’s superb hanging kick on the last tackle found Purtell and he rose highest among a thicket of players to ground the ball.

Tom Olbison then blotted his copybook when he knocked on and Dorn’s grubber kick forced the Bulls to drop out.

When Castleford’s third try came it was a counter-attacking effort which saw Dixon find Finn, whose offload under pressure sent Clark powering over the line.

Dixon converted to make it 18-18 but then skewed a relatively simple penalty wide on the hour mark.

However, moments later Finn sent a high kick into the left channel and Carney was on hand to ground the ball for a try which Dixon converted.

With nine minutes remaining, Kear looked to have burst clear from deep inside his own half but referee Robert Hicks had called back play for an earlier knock-on by Henry.

As the Bulls began to tire, Dorn crashed under the posts with seven minutes remaining, before Grant Millington collected a flat pass to similarly go over from close range.

It felt harsh on the Bulls but, as Cummins stated, there was a spirit which bodes well for the tough challenges that lie ahead.

Attendance: 8,214

Comments (3)

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7:48am Mon 17 Feb 14

bradfordbronco says...

Some good defence on our line we kept them out several times with repeats sets and looked comfortable. Need to close down players sooner though, we kept getting beat in the wrestle. They kept making extra metres in the tackle and getting the offload away. This gave us too much defending to do and we got tired late on and led to errors.

Need to find better options on our last tackle. Kicking from deep was good. But we just haven't got anybody who can force a repeat set. Not many teams score from a single set a six. The repeat set is vital.

Training this week should be one on one defence and attacking kicks. Other than that we played pretty well, and if we can avoid points deduction we've got a chance of staying up. Need to Ferguson in team soon though
Some good defence on our line we kept them out several times with repeats sets and looked comfortable. Need to close down players sooner though, we kept getting beat in the wrestle. They kept making extra metres in the tackle and getting the offload away. This gave us too much defending to do and we got tired late on and led to errors. Need to find better options on our last tackle. Kicking from deep was good. But we just haven't got anybody who can force a repeat set. Not many teams score from a single set a six. The repeat set is vital. Training this week should be one on one defence and attacking kicks. Other than that we played pretty well, and if we can avoid points deduction we've got a chance of staying up. Need to Ferguson in team soon though bradfordbronco
  • Score: 3

9:03am Mon 17 Feb 14

Bowlingboy says...

Gaskell was impressive and filled Sammuts boots well enough,
The team did have some good spells and the referee didn't help giving back to back sets away for fun.

Although a few positives can be drawn, it doesn't alter the fact we need to make some purchases and fast as we are under manned,

The team also didn't look fit enough in the last 20 or they lost motivation that tbh given recent events you couldn't blame them for.

BUT..... Cas were **** poor and we lost two points to them,
we need to pull our finger out on Thursday and try kick on and build confidence.
Gaskell was impressive and filled Sammuts boots well enough, The team did have some good spells and the referee didn't help giving back to back sets away for fun. Although a few positives can be drawn, it doesn't alter the fact we need to make some purchases and fast as we are under manned, The team also didn't look fit enough in the last 20 or they lost motivation that tbh given recent events you couldn't blame them for. BUT..... Cas were **** poor and we lost two points to them, we need to pull our finger out on Thursday and try kick on and build confidence. Bowlingboy
  • Score: 1

1:17pm Mon 17 Feb 14

raisemeup says...

I would not blame the referee, because after all it's more or less the same for both teams and it depends largely on how a particular team read how the officials react to that game.
For example, I am not sure, but I think we haven't won many games when Robert Hicks is the referee.
He is a Referee that is totally pedantic and will constantly interupt the game if a team is showing themselves as ill disciplined, or off kilter.
The actual game was strewn with scrums and penalties>
To this end it was frustrating for both teams.
The culmination being a scrum down by Castleford only, before we had formed. The ball was fed into the second row by the Cas. scrum half with it then being passed out to the Castleford attacking side. Fortunately the Ref. spotted this before they had chance to go over the line unopposed.
Priceless!!!
At least it gave me something to smile about, when their wasn't much to go on towards the end of the game!
Still COYB
I would not blame the referee, because after all it's more or less the same for both teams and it depends largely on how a particular team read how the officials react to that game. For example, I am not sure, but I think we haven't won many games when Robert Hicks is the referee. He is a Referee that is totally pedantic and will constantly interupt the game if a team is showing themselves as ill disciplined, or off kilter. The actual game was strewn with scrums and penalties> To this end it was frustrating for both teams. The culmination being a scrum down by Castleford only, before we had formed. The ball was fed into the second row by the Cas. scrum half with it then being passed out to the Castleford attacking side. Fortunately the Ref. spotted this before they had chance to go over the line unopposed. Priceless!!! At least it gave me something to smile about, when their wasn't much to go on towards the end of the game! Still COYB raisemeup
  • Score: 1

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