Francis Cummins could not fault the effort of his players as the Bulls fought bravely before slipping to a narrow 22-18 defeat at Widnes.

In their first match since Marc Green bought the club from administrator David Wilson, Bradford were outscored by four tries to three.

But they pushed a high-flying Widnes outfit every step of the way after Brett Kearney’s superb 67th-minute try cut the gap to four points to set up a grandstand finish.

Head coach Cummins said: “A lot has gone on this week and it’s nice to know the club is secured.

“But it didn’t take the focus off today’s game and what we were trying to do, which was come here and get a win.

“The effort was there again for us and to be honest it’s been there all season and since we’ve been in administration.

“The players worked really hard today and if we could have shown a bit more composure then maybe the result might have been different.

“We are just lacking a little bit of quality sometimes but I couldn’t ask for any more effort.”

Cummins said the search for players was ongoing but he confirmed that Liam Sutcliffe would return to Leeds today following the end of his month-long loan spell at Odsal.

The Bulls coach said: “There are things going on and we need some cavalry to help us out numbers-wise.

“We need to recruit because you can’t play the game with three props and one of them is a back-rower. We lacked composure at times but we had chances to win it and showed some really good skill.”

Cummins also paid tribute to Kearney following his excellent attacking display which saw him score a superb second-half try.

“Brett Kearney was excellent for us,” he said. “He’s scored a great try and he’s got the skill-set of a half-back and he really showed what he was about.

“He’s doesn’t react that well to this surface and he will probably be missing for the next three days but he’s in a really good bit of form.”

Widnes coach Denis Betts paid tribute to Cummins and believes he is due more credit for the job he is doing with a club wracked by their off-field adversity.

“I was really impressed with Bradford and the way the approached the game,” he said.

“The amount of anxiety that Francis Cummins has had to cope with since he took charge and what they’re going through at the moment, it’s a credit to how hard he’s worked there that they still turned up and had a bit of a dig. He deserves a lot of praise for how hard he’s worked in such an anxious environment.”

* The Bulls Under-19s lost 32-18 at Widnes in yesterday’s curtain-raiser, with half-backs Adam Brook and Macauley Barron (2) scoring the tries for Richard Tunningley’s men.