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Revenge aim as Bradford Bulls Man up in face of adversity
Eight weeks ago, the Bulls hosted Salford on a sun-kissed Sunday afternoon at Odsal.
Mick Potter’s men had beaten St Helens on home soil the previous week and were chasing a fourth win in five games.
The feel-good factor was palpable.
But all that hope and belief had evaporated by the time the hooter sounded to signal the end of a truly woeful first half.
That opening 40 minutes saw Salford breach the Bulls’ line six times, putting them 30-6 up at the break and effectively out of sight.
The 38-18 defeat will go down as a low point of the Bulls’ 2012 campaign.
“We need to get them back,” declared Manase Manuokafoa yesterday.
“They got us good and proper at home and were better than us that day, which was disappointing.
“They played well but we weren’t at our best. Hopefully it’s payback time on Friday night.”
Nevertheless, the Bulls have defied the critics and a financial crisis to emerge as serious play-off contenders this year. They lie three points clear of ninth-placed Hull KR ahead of their maiden trip to the new Salford City Stadium.
Manuokafoa added: “I think we are where we want to be.
“We’re in the eight, so we’ve just got to try and improve on that.
“We’ve got to try and get two points every week.
“When the club’s financial problems began, as players we made a pact to stick together.
“Whatever happens we’ve just got to do our job, play for each other and try and be competitive every week.
“We’ve got a job to do playing for the Bulls, for ourselves and our families. That doesn’t change.
“I know we’ve not managed to make the play-offs in the last three years but I’m really looking forward to trying to help us in there this time.”
Manuokafoa, his wife and stepson have adapted well to life in Bradford off the pitch.
The powerhouse front-rower, 27, has emerged as a key figure for the Bulls on it.
“It’s going really well at the moment,” said the Tonga international, who arrived at Odsal during the winter from Parramatta on a one-year deal.
“I don’t mind if I’m starting or coming off the bench to keep the team going forward.”
Looking ahead to tonight’s trans-Pennine clash, he added: “I don’t know much about Salford, other than it’s a new ground. I’m looking forward to it and no doubt there will be another big following from Bradford.
“To hear them constantly chanting for the team gives you another lift.
“It’s great to run out before the game and see them in the stands and on the terraces. It makes you want to win even more.”
Manuokafoa is keen to stay at the club beyond this season, although he admitted his future and that of his team-mates is shrouded in uncertainty.
He added: “I’m trying to play each week as if it’s my last week because I’m fighting for another contract. I love it here and I want to stay.
“Whether that happens or not I don’t know, but I’ve just got to play to the best of my ability and hopefully everything will fall into place.”