Francis Cummins was beaming with pride after the Bulls came back from the dead to beat Catalan Dragons 33-20 and book their place in tonight’s Challenge Cup quarter-final draw.
Trailing 16-0 in the opening quarter, Cummins saw his men conjure a highly impressive reply to run in five tries from Lee Gaskell, Jamie Foster (2), Luke Gale and Adrian Purtell.
It was the perfect response to last week’s club-record defeat at Wigan, which prompted managing director Steve Ferres to issue a damning statement.
Cummins said yesterday: “I’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to stop myself swearing because I’ve been that frustrated.
“I’m having to stop myself swearing today because I’m that excited!
“I’ve never once questioned the character of my players and this was a real boost today for the boys and the staff.
“The fans found their voice again and they helped the players through.
“It’s a proud moment and, while it’s not enough in the bigger picture, it’s a great start. It’s a step forward.”
Catalan, who featured three former Bradford players in Leon Pryce, Elliott Whitehead and Olivier Elima, scored three tries inside the opening 13 minutes.
But Whitehead was soon forced to depart with a suspected broken ankle and was later taken to hospital.
The Bulls gradually assumed control and new recruit Jay Pitts enjoyed a promising debut, although prop Manase Manuokafoa succumbed to a late hamstring injury.
Cummins can look forward to today’s draw with optimism and added: “It was more about mindset but we got them at the right end of the field and showed far greater patience.
“We’ve tried to overplay in recent games but we’ve learnt something today and that’s huge for my young team.”
Cummins deployed Gaskell at full back and Brett Kearney at stand-off and added: “It helped and it gives us another option.
“Jay Pitts put in a great shift, showed some great technique and worked really hard. I thought Luke George was terrific in the centres and, although it took him a little while to get up to speed, he enjoyed the battle.”
Yesterday was owner Marc Green’s birthday and Cummins added: “We’ve got to focus on the process rather than the outcome and we did that today.
“It was very pleasing and people have written us off but today we stood up. It’s probably the most enjoyable game of my reign here and I’m so pleased for the players.”