BULLS’ 50-12 capitulation against Sheffield was not the only stand out Championship result last weekend.

Halifax bludgeoned recent Super League side London Broncos 47-14 on Good Friday, while newly-promoted Newcastle roared back at the death to claim an incredible 30-30 draw with Widnes.

And with no obviously weak teams like Rochdale (one win in 27 in 2019) in the division this year, Bradford skipper Steve Crossley knows his side need to sort out their early-season deficiencies fast.

He said: “It’s the strongest I’ve ever seen the Championship. It’s always been tough, but even teams normally down there like Swinton, they played really well against us in pre-season, were coached well and were full of experienced players.

“I thought they’d be up there, but they lost on the opening day to Oldham, another team who’ve struggled in the past.

“The league is completely wide open this year.”

That means performances like the Sheffield one need to be few and far between if Bulls are to compete.

It was their fourth below-par performance from four in 2021, but Crossley said: “I don’t think we’re in a rut. We’re confident of turning things around.

“I can’t put my finger on what went wrong against Sheffield, as we’d had a great week’s prep for it.

“But they out-enthused us all day, which should not be happening. If you weren’t hurt by what went on on Sunday, then you shouldn’t be playing rugby league.

“John’s rightly laid it on us, and we had a long team meeting on Tuesday and a couple of good training sessions since.

“We can’t dwell on it as there’s another 20-odd games to go. We can fix this up and as a senior player and the captain, it’s up to the likes of me to gee everyone up.

“Next week it’s good that we’ve got that derby with Halifax too, as that gives us extra motivation.”

Many commented on how tired the Bulls players looked last Sunday, and Crossley said: “Obviously we’ve been limited in what we can do in training compared to a normal pre-season, but I think the main factor is match sharpness.

“Others have looked really good though and we’ve not had that so it is a tough one.

“We are still getting used to new rules for this season and the game’s got faster, but we’re confident, as we have two weeks to hit the ground running and get fit for Fax.”

One player who will be desperate to hit the ground running is Jordan Lilley, with the scrum-half returning from the two-game suspension that he picked up against Swinton.

Asked how important the return of the former Leeds Rhinos man is, Crossley said: “Jordan’s conscious that he’s let us down by being out, and it’s going to be good to have our two natural half-backs in the team.

“It means others can focus on their positions now, as we’ve struggled with having to have Joe Brown and Brandon Pickersgill alternate between the halves, the wing and full-back to make up for Jordan’s absence.”