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Francis Cummins demanding Bradford Bulls response in Salford clash

Former Bulls star Iestyn Harris is in charge of Salford against his former club

Former Bulls star Iestyn Harris is in charge of Salford against his former club

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

BULLS head coach Francis Cummins is demanding a reaction from his players when they head to Salford for tomorrow's crunch relegation battle.

Victory for Cummins' men would lift them to within five points of the misfiring Red Devils with 11 rounds still to play.

After the Bulls' points penalty was upheld this week, Cummins immediately spoke of his determination to pull off a monumental escape act.

Having lost heavily to Warrington in an error-ridden Challenge Cup quarter-final last week, the Bradford boss is expecting a significant improvement from his players as they seek to keep their survival dream alive.

Cummins has recalled Jordan Baldwinson and Joe Arundel to his squad in place of Jay Pitts (suspended) and Dale Ferguson, who is nursing an abdominal strain but could be back to face Hull KR next week.

"We have got experience of coming up with a performance," said Cummins.

"I thought our effort was really good in the first half last week but we had to work too hard and gave them way too much ball.

"You can't do that with a team like Warrington because they've got too much quality.

"We are seeking a reaction this weekend and that comes in performance – putting into practice what we do in training.

"It's about sticking to the game-plan because the reality is that we're at our best when we work hard for each other and stick to what we're doing.

"Some teams have players who can do something out of nothing but our game is more about us all doing well and really dominating field position.

"If we do that, then we've got a really good chance against anyone."

Since being appointed as Brian Noble's successor in April and winning at Odsal in his first game in charge, Iestyn Harris has struggled in the Salford hot-seat.

His men have gone eight games without a win and the Bulls can move to within five points of the Red Devils should they emerge victorious tomorrow.

Harris' only win was a 38-24 success against the Bulls at Odsal in April on a night when Rangi Chase was at the heart of all their best attacking moves.

Cummins said: "I thought they played really well against us and, from what I've seen of them, that was probably their best performance of the season.

"They're in a tough position and there is a bit of pressure on them as well, so strange things can happen – but we've just got concentrate on ourselves.

"I think they are in the mix at the bottom end of the table and that's why the pressure is on them.

"I don't think they have fired yet. They have shown glimpses but as a team they've perhaps not quite come together fully yet. Hopefully they don't come together this week.

"Regardless of the points appeal, we've got to start accumulating points ourselves and they're not that far away from us in the league, so we've got to be confident."

Harris, meanwhile, claims his misfiring side are ready to start proving their army of doubters wrong – starting tomorrow.

The former Bradford stand-off says his men will go into the match with a renewed focus after a fortnight of tough training since their last outing.

"Being a team is about having an internal identity and if you've not got that then you don't have a lot to hang your hat on," said Harris.

"To have that two weeks to assess what type of team allows you to work on things you want to work on.

"We've done a lot of good training and, for the first time since I've been here, we're starting to see some really positive repetitions in training, which is key to becoming a winning team.

"We've done a lot of improving as a group over the past six weeks and although it hasn't showed on the field to the outside, internally you can see huge improvements we've made."

While the Bulls are desperate for victory to keep their survival hopes alive, Salford would be dragged right into the relegation battle should they lose.

"It's a massive game for us and one that we're looking to get a win from," admitted Harris.

"We've got just under half the season to go and there's a lot of points to pick up along the way.

"We feel as though now we're more than capable of picking up eight or nine results, or more, if we start to click and connect.

"This is the start of that. We're going into this game with the right confidence and attitude to get the job done. This group is determined to succeed and prove the external impression of them wrong."

Arundel, who will hope for a recall after being cup-tied last weekend, played with Chase at Castleford and warned: "You can't give Rangi time because he can destroy you.

"He's very unpredictable and can pull something special off. Some of the stuff he can do is unbelievable and I'm still friends with him now.

"He's very dangerous so we need to shut him down and this is a game we are targeting to start our league push."

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