Bradford Bulls 34, Hull FC 28
IT is an intriguing thought.
If Jimmy Lowes had been appointed several weeks earlier, might the Bulls still be in with a chance of Super League survival?
That we will never know, but there is no denying the energy and desire coursing through the veins of Lowes' team right now.
This was a third win on the bounce for the renascent Bulls, who showed remarkable spirit to hit back from 12-0 down and overpower Lee Radford's side.
That is not relegation form and they do not look like a relegated side.
Not in the slightest.
They are playing with confidence, self-belief and no little skill either, which is more than can be said for Hull.
They were a shambles at times and capitulated badly after seizing early control in horrendous windswept and rain-lashed conditions.
Lowes said: "It's what they do at training. When you work extremely hard there, you tend to get a bit of a feel for playing.
"You work hard for each other and the guys who are leaving the guys and the guys who are staying are all the same.
"They want to leave on a good note and lads staying working extremely hard to get the jump on the new boys coming in."
That three of Bradford's six tries were scored by Hull players merely compounded the agony for the Black and Whites.
Joe Arundel, who enjoyed an outstanding game to continue his recent renaissance under Lowes, scored twice and created a try for ex-Hull loanee Jamie Foster.
Jay Pitts – who, like Arundel, joined Bradford on loan in April until the end of the season – also touched down.
Pitts' try was one of several created by Lee Gaskell, who should rip up the Championship next season on this evidence.
Arundel and Pitts remain under contract at Hull for another two seasons and seem certain to head back to the KC Stadium.
Pleasingly for Lowes, however, is the fact that plenty of yesterday's team – such as Adam Henry, Gaskell, Adam O'Brien, Adam Sidlow, Tom Olbison, Dale Ferguson and Danny Addy – have all agreed to stay.
Today's news that Addy has penned a new two-year deal is a major coup as the Bulls seek to bounce back into Super League at the first attempt.
Things really are looking up at Odsal right now.
A growing administration team behind the scenes is being matched by the squad currently being assembled on the field.
Two years have passed since Bradford last recorded three successive Super League wins.
That sequence came in August 2012 and at a time when the club were desperately fighting for survival.
Mick Potter was working for free after being made redundant following the Bulls' slide into administration.
Much water has passed under the bridge since then but the way things are going it is hard not to feel that the Bulls are on the up again.
Brett Kearney was fit to return after missing the victory at Headingley with concussion and he slotted in at full back. Jamie Foster was recalled to face the club where he enjoyed a successful loan spell in the second half of 2012.
Arundel and Pitts also started against their parent club but it was the Black and Whites who began the brighter in difficult conditions.
The heavens opened shortly before kick-off but it was the visitors who appeared to initially adapt better as they made a vibrant start.
An early penalty gave them the field position to exert pressure on the Bulls' line and it paid as full back Jamie Shaul opened the scoring.
Hull attacked with pace and precision and some slick handling culminated in Richard Horne ushering Shaul clear from ten metres out.
Joe Westerman added the extras but a piece of quick thinking almost saw Luke Gale reply for the Bulls when he collected possession from a penalty and tore down the left flank.
The Castleford-bound scrum half looked destined to squeeze in at the corner but Shaul covered superbly to deny him. Westerman then almost put Horne clear before Kearney made a vital saving tackle.
In truth it was all rather scrappy, and certainly had an end-of-season feel to it, but Hull continued to look dangerous and scored again in the 17th minute.
After the visitors were awarded a penalty deep in Bradford territory, hooker Danny Houghton sent former England forward Gareth Ellis over from point-blank range.
Another conversion from Westerman put Hull 12-0 up but the Bulls gradually steadied themselves and fashioned a highly impressive response.
A high kick from Gale caused panic in the Hull defence and bounced into the arms of Arundel, who showed intelligence to send Foster over from close range.
The try took him past the 1,000-point barrier in his career and then Arundel supported Gaskell's brilliant break to sprint into the left corner.
It was exhilarating stuff and four minutes after the break Sidlow stretched out his right arm to touch down from close range and threw the ball high into the air in celebration.
By now Bradford had the scent of victory and Hull begin to crumble, much to Radford's disgust. The former Bulls forward accused his men of dishonesty afterwards and Lowes' men duly capitalised.
Their fourth try came in the 51st minute when more excellent work from Gaskell saw him throw a fine pass to Pitts and he crashed over inside the left channel.
With the wind at their backs, and Gaskell roaming the park to increasing effect, the Bulls began to dominate.
Four minutes later, Hull hit back when Ellis scored his second try in the left corner from a fine pass by Jordan Rankin.
Yet the pendulum soon swung back in Bradford's favour as Addy celebrated his new contract with a try, crashing over from another Gaskell assist.
Tries from Setaimata Sa and Tom Lineham, both inside the right channel, gave Hull's drenched supporters on the Rooley Avenue terrace some reason to cheer.
But Radford's side had long since surrendered the points as the Bulls were left to toast another victory.