I need a drink, admits Potter after Bradford Bulls final curtain (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Four Jarrod Sammut tries not enough to earn Bradford Bulls play-offs finale
Catalan Dragons 50, Bradford Bulls 26
Mick Potter spoke to his players and staff during a post-match debrief on Saturday before completing his formal press duties.
With his work for the year effectively done, the Bulls coach puffed out his cheeks and made clear his priority for the evening ahead.
"I’m going for a beer tonight," he said. "I think I need one."
After 27 Super League rounds, two Challenge Cup ties and goodness knows how many hours on the training field, it was little wonder.
Potter has given absolutely everything to Bradford Bulls these past few months and has been working voluntarily since being made redundant on July 2.
A decision on his future is expected early this week.
If no new deal can be brokered between Potter and the Bulls’ new owners – Omar Khan was at the Stade Gilbert Brutus on Saturday – assistant coach Francis Cummins could conceivably be handed the reins.
Asked how he saw things shaping up at Odsal if he does depart, Potter’s words were telling.
“What I hope for if I’m not there is that they don’t get some old person, or people, who have been at the organisation before,” said Potter.
“I hope they don’t get someone who has stuck in behind the scenes and tried to manipulate the whole scenario to a degree in order to benefit themselves.
“I hope they go with a young coach who wants to move forward and wants a challenge – not an old has-been.”
Potter did not name names, although he did not need to.
His tone was reminiscent of the night when he marched into a fans meeting at the Guide Post Hotel, just hours after he and 15 other staff had been made redundant.
A feeling of suspicion and mistrust still lingers over that whole affair and Potter will certainly never forget this year at Odsal.
It was the fourth season in succession that this famous old club had failed to make the play-offs.
It was a year in which the name of Bradford Bulls had been dragged through the mud by the club’s off-field traumas and a financial crisis which raised question marks over their continued existence.
And yet there was also undeniable progress on the field; the Bulls would now be preparing for a play-off date had they not had six points deducted.
After a difficult first campaign at Odsal, Potter had assembled a well-balanced, motivated squad who emerged as a respected force.
There will be sweeping changes during the close-season.
There has to be.
Some major cost-cutting is expected as players continue to depart.
Not even Craig Kopczak , the Bulls’ best prop, could have prevented this defeat.
The Bulls, after a vibrant start in which they raced 10-0 ahead, gradually wilted in the searing heat of Perpignan.
A reshaped side, which included Jarrod Sammut and Elliot Kear at the expense of Ben Jeffries and Shaun Ainscough , led inside the second minute when a delightful handling sequence involving Brett Kearney and Luke Gale culminated in Michael Platt plunging over from ten metres out.
Khan, perched high in the main stand, celebrated with a punch of the air.
It soon got better for the Bulls when Jason Crookes palmed back a high kick from Gale and Sammut finished well in the left corner. Gale could not convert but a 10-0 lead gave the Bulls a platform on which to build.
Heath L’Estrange was full of ideas around the ruck and the pack punched some sizeable holes in the Dragons line-up during the opening exchanges.
A kick from Gale was then charged down by Remi Casty, with the Bulls playmaker attempting to atone for his error by hauling back the Dragons prop at the expense of a penalty.
That subsequently led to full back Clint Greenshields darting over in the left corner, despite the attention of at least two Bradford defenders, with the try given after deliberation from video referee Phil Bentham.
Damien Blanch then almost escaped down the right flank before Kearney halted his progress with a fine tackle.
Moments later, a high kick from Dureau was spilled by Sammut inside the Bulls’ ten-metre line and Vincent Duport picked up the loose ball and barrelled over the line.
This time Dureau did convert from a far easier position just wide of the right-hand post and suddenly the hosts were level at 10-10.
Ian Henderson then found Dureau and his pass sent Setaimata Sa over the line. Dureau converted and continued to combine effectively with Thomas Bosc, who produced a delightful 40-20 midway through the first half.
That afforded the Dragons more pressure on the Bulls line and Henderson, Dureau and Bosc almost combined to put Greenshields in before the danger was cleared.
A stabbed kick from Bosc then forced the Bulls to drop out, gifting possession back to Catalan and encouraging the hosts to pound further away on the visitors’ line.
Crookes thought he had broken clear in the 23rd minute but referee Richard Silverwood blew his whistle for an earlier infringement.
Two minutes later, Louis Anderson broke through the Bulls defence all too easily to gallop clear from 20 metres out. Dureau added the extras and it was hard not to feel that the game was slipping away from the Bulls.
Their frustrations showed moments later when Platt caught Gregory Mounis late, earning a lecture from Silverwood but nothing more.
Kearney was then trapped inside his in-goal area with a thunderous challenge from Henderson which left the full back needing a quick check from physio Jamie Moseley.
Olivier Elima showed all his fighting qualities on his final appearance for the Bulls against the club he will now join – and the Bulls conjured a spirited response to haul themselves back into contention before half-time.
In the 34th minute, Kearney found Lulia and the Cook Islands international sent Sammut over the line in the left corner.
Sammut then completed his hat-trick on the stroke of half-time when he chipped behind the Catalan defence and outpaced them to touch down for a fine individual score.
He celebrated with a cartwheel and a somersault and an interval scoreline of 22-20 in Catalan’s favour left the game firmly in balance.
But the Dragons were utterly dominant after the restart and Bradford did not help themselves by making 13 errors to continually gift their opponents field position.
In the 45th minute, Bosc sauntered past Tom Olbison to cross the line but the try was disallowed for an earlier obstruction.
But three minutes later the Bulls were powerless to prevent former Odsal star Steve Menzies , all 38 years of him, galloping clear like a colt from almost 40 metres out.
The Bulls steadied themselves once more, with Platt going close to crossing the line before being held up and Elliott Whitehead dropping the ball when well placed.
The Dragons scored again through Daryl Millard before the impressive Greenshields advanced forward in a diagonal run, dummied past a Bradford defender and crashed over in the right corner.
Dureau intercepted a pass from Kearney to race 80 metres for a try he converted, before Sammut similarly scooped up a loose ball to scamper clear from distance.
But Greenshields had the final word, wrapping up his hat-trick when he pounced on a loose ball following Dureau’s kick.