Bradford Bulls 40, Wakefield Wildcats 6
It is an intriguing thought.
If the Bulls can maintain this level of performance and stay healthy for the majority of the campaign, what might they be capable of in 2013?
They outclassed Wakefield comprehensively yesterday, giving Francis Cummins a near perfect start to his tenure as head coach.
The Bulls’ teamwork was matchless, their conviction unshakeable.
They simply had too much energy and desire for a Wakefield outfit who ended last season in the play-offs.
Their eighth-placed finish – at the expense of the Bulls – came on the back of a club-record seven straight Super League wins.
The Wildcats never looked capable of reproducing that form yesterday, but they were not allowed to.
The Bulls were dominant from start to finish, controlling possession and taking their chances with aplomb.
Bradford reduced Wakefield’s pack to rubble and dripped with ideas and creativity in the backs.
Positives emerged pretty much everywhere you looked, not least in the performances of the three new recruits.
Cummins handed debuts to Jamie Foster at full back and Matty Blythe at right centre, while prop Adam Sidlow made his bow off the bench.
All three played pivotal roles.
Foster was safe and assured, kicking six goals from seven attempts and scoring a try after Blythe and Sidlow both touched down in the opening 40 minutes.
He was at his impish and impudent best, dovetailing effectively with the effervescent Brett Kearney and capitalising on the platform laid by a powerful, mobile Bulls pack.
Sammut showed only glimpses of his rare ability last season due to a combination of cruel luck with injuries and the form of Ben Jeffries.
Perhaps this could be his year.
Wakefield, it has to be said, were fairly woeful.
Much credit has gone to Richard Agar for the way he has rebuilt the club in the wake of the club’s administration two years ago and rightly so.
But his men could not match the Bulls’ stomach for the fight and were ripped apart in the opening 40 minutes.
Agar called his side’s physicality “disgraceful” afterwards and he was right.
The feelgood factor was palpable when Omar Khan and Gerry Sutcliffe were introduced to the crowd shortly before kick-off.
Charm and charisma drips from Khan and the Bulls owner took the opportunity to speak to the fans on the microphone, even drawing a wave and a cheer from Wakefield’s supporters.
The last time Khan and Sutcliffe had stepped out on the pitch to indulge supporters, the Bulls were stuffed 70-6 by Hull.
That pasting effectively ended their play-off hopes and came just hours after Khan stepped in to rescue the club from oblivion.
Do not underestimate how close the Bulls came to being liquidated last September.
Administrator Brendan Guilfoyle was ready and willing to pull the plug on a rugby league institution.
Khan stepped in when others would not and has breathed life into a dying club.
What a difference five months makes.
Hull FC coach Peter Gentle, whose team host Bradford on Friday night, watched proceedings unfold from the top of the newly-named Provident Stand yesterday.
He cannot fail to have been impressed as the Bulls, slowly but surely, took Wakefield to the cleaners.
After Ben Cockayne kicked off for the visitors, the Bulls soon established a foothold on proceedings and when they scored in the ninth minute, it came as no surprise to anyone.
Sammut collected possession on the Bulls’ 40-metre line and showed impressive pace, strength and clever footwork to break through a clutch of defenders and make at least 20 metres.
He then showed intelligence to find Foster to his left and the former St Helens man had a plethora of options as team-mates raced forward to support him.
Foster kept the move flowing with a neat short offload to Tom Olbison and he in turn found Chev Walker in the left corner.
Walker had Michael Platt close by and quickly ushered him over the line with a simple pass to cap a brilliant team try.
Foster added a fine touchline conversion to put the Bulls 6-0 ahead before Wakefield gradually steadied themselves.
However, the Wildcats were soon on back foot again when former Leeds full back Richie Mathers knocked on, giving the Bulls another set deep in the visitors’ territory.
Bradford continued to look full of ideas, with Blythe soon on hand to scoot over the line from close range.
Foster again converted confidently and the Bulls were 12-0 up and in total control.
The hosts continued to probe and, after some neat offloading from Matt Diskin and Walker, Kearney clipped a teasing grubber kick behind the Wakefield defence, trapping a Wakefield player and forcing the visitors into a goal-line drop-out.
That gifted possession straight back to the Bulls and Sidlow, on for Manase Manuokafoa, looked to have sent Kearney over the line.
Referee Ben Thaler ruled the score out for an apparent offside but Sidlow was soon on hand to crash under the posts from close range.
Foster added the extras and the Bulls were cruising at 18-0 up.
Four minutes before the break, Sammut took centre stage after scampering clear from the base of a scrum to cross in the left corner.
It was a fine individual effort and just reward for his display, although Foster could not add the extras from the touchline.
Wakefield enjoyed a brief purple patch on the stroke of half-time but it amounted to nothing as the Bulls held firm.
The second half followed in a similar vein to that of the previous 40 minutes; Bradford constantly forcing Wakefield to retreat towards their own line and dominating possession.
The Wildcats buckled again six minutes after the break when Kearney’s teasing grubber kick was grounded by the onrushing Foster.
Try number six arrived in the 52nd minute when Heath L’Estrange’s quick pass invited Sammut to drive at the heart of the Wakefield defence.
He did just that and some nimble footwork left Mathers clutching at thin air as Sammut crossed for his second try of the match.
Manuokafoa came back on to punch more holes in the Wakefield defence and Elliott Whitehead almost burrowed over the line.
Wakefield replied with 16 minutes remaining when skipper Danny Kirmond charged down a kick, allowing Dean Collis to race clear from inside his own half to score.
But there was still time for Kearney to power clear from 30 metres after leaving Mathers for dead and Foster kicked his sixth goal from seven attempts.
A new era and new hope for the Bulls as they look to make the play-offs for the first time since 2008.