Francis Cummins faces a nervous wait to discover the extent of the injuries suffered by a trio of his players during last night’s fraught 22-22 draw at Widnes.
The Bulls coach saw his side surrender a 20-4 interval lead as the Vikings fought back from the controversial dismissal of Gareth Hock to level the scores with four minutes remaining.
Referee Robert Hicks sent off Hock for swearing at him in the 30th minute but the Bulls were dominated by Widnes in the second half and also saw Jamie Langley, Chev Walker and Matty Blythe pick up injuries during the match.
A stunned Cummins said: “We had an early blow losing Jamie Langley to a groin injury and then Chev and Matty with ankle injuries. It’s no excuse but it does disrupt you.
“I’m more annoyed with the way we tried to come out with big plays when they had more ball in the second half.
“We didn’t have any field position but I thought the effort from the guys was tremendous because we had some people busted quite early on.
“We’ve had to work really hard but you can’t play without the ball.”
Tries from Elliott Whitehead, Brett Kearney and Matt Diskin put the Bulls in control but the dismissal of Hock proved the game’s turning point.
Although Keith Lulia soon added a fourth try for the visitors, Widnes responded in style and former Bulls winger Patrick Ah Van scored twice and then kicked a late penalty after earlier tries from Rhys Hanbury and Lloyd White.
Cummins said: “This is probably a little awakening for the boys. We had a great win on Sunday at Huddersfield and were very smart – but we weren’t tonight.”
The penalty count went against the Bulls in the second half but Cummins said: “The referee didn’t miss the tackles; he didn’t try and offload when we were in silly positions. We’re not into excuses.”
John Bateman is poised to play in next Sunday’s home clash with Hull KR after scoring a hat-trick and playing 80 minutes in the Academy’s 46-16 win over Widnes.
The home-grown back-rower looked in excellent physical condition and crossed the line three times during the first half in a fine display by Paul Medley’s side.