BULLS coach Leigh Beattie declared himself ‘over the moon’ with the way his side played despite them bowing out of the Challenge Cup at home to Featherstone.
Rovers ended 21-13 winners at a wet and windy Odsal to progress to the fifth round, but a makeshift young Bradford outfit ensured the match was in the balance until the latter stages of the second half.
With all their loan players unavailable, Bulls were depleted further on the morning of the match when they were forced to withdraw full back Oscar Thomas and forward Colton Roche due to injuries.
It meant that they were fielding a side with an average age under 22 with several players having to adopt unfamiliar roles out of position.
Yet they still pushed high-flying Featherstone all the way, leading Beattie to say: “I was over the moon with that performance.
“The weather conditions were awful but the players all had a real good dig.
"It was tough, old school rugby in that mud. When we finished we didn’t have any fit bodies left in the last ten minutes – it was proper old school.
“James Bentley had to come off with slight concussion, Brandan Wilkinson had cramp which he couldn’t shake off, James Mendeika was off with an ankle injury and Leon Pryce had a slight groin strain so we took him off as a precaution. The last 12 minutes we didn’t have anyone else (to bring on).”
The highlight for Bulls, who included four hookers in Vila Halafihi, Scott Moore, Joe Lumb and Reiss Butterworth, was a try for 18-year-old Evan Hodgson.
Along with Butterworth, the youngster was making his debut after stepping up from the under-19s and Beattie was thrilled with the teenager’s effort.
He said: “It’s a credit to our academy. I thought Evan was outstanding. He has notched a try and I’m really pleased for him – even he plays in the middle (at prop) and has had to play back row. I’m over the moon for him.”
Beattie was delighted with the way his players adapted to unfamiliar roles.
He said: “We had four hookers playing – one who started as a back-rower and ended in the centre. Another who came on in the back row, then Scott Moore ended at stand-off.”
On the injuries to Roche and Thomas, Beattie added: “We left it as late as we could this morning but there was no point in risking them.”
Beattie will now refocus the squad towards knocking off their points penalty in the Championship, which is currently at minus six.
He said: “That’s the main goal. We’ll just keep ticking them off one by one. We’re focused on Dewsbury Rams next week.”