THIRTY-SIX minutes feels like an eternity in rugby league – well that’s certainly what last week in Sheffield felt like after James Green was shown the red card for fighting at the beginning of the second half.

Everyone was disappointed to lose the top-of-the-table clash, but the reality is at this level you need a strong, competitive team ALL on the field.

Credit to Mark Aston and his team for keeping their heads and grinding our boys down and running in 18 unanswered points.

The video never lies and certainly the statistics showed the sheer possession imbalance was over double in Sheffield’s favour, supported with an avalanche of penalties.

And with fatigue through tackling ultimately becoming the balancing item as we were forced to defend with 11 men, as Jordan Lilley joined Green on the sidelines in the 73rd minute for dissent.

As with every match, our football department will dissect this game down play-by-play to help the coaches and players understand and improve performances. Every game we learn more about ourselves.

The number of penalties awarded was surprising, and I know some frank views were being aired afterwards by the coaching staff. It’s often a fine line between legal brutality and outright losing your rag.

The finger bone must point at us. But as I constantly remind myself – we aren’t playing marbles. Rugby league is one, if not the, most brutal collision team sport in the world. As fans, that’s just the way we like it.

But we must quickly regroup and completely focus on our next opponent, the York City Knights. It has been over two months since we met York in our Boxing Day ‘grand final that never happened’.

Certainly, their coach James Ford and his charges will dismiss that clash as simply two heavyweights sparring, but everyone knows that Sunday will be the real deal as we go head-to-head with a very strong and consistent York team.

I know from talking with their chairman, John Flatman, that they genuinely see themselves as contenders to make the play-offs.

The Knights are a team definitely going places, with a string of new signings. They have started this season as they finished the last and have already established themselves as a very solid Championship club.

With a new ground actually being delivered – unlike some others – the club has built steadily over the recent past.

In the meantime, there are two precious league points at stake with the Knights holding down third spot in the early running.

Last year we both won at each other’s grounds, so let’s hope we can break that cycle this time.

Our last home league game against York provided one of the highlights of the season, off the field that is, with a colourful and vibrant home support before we were blitzed. A second-half revival made it a grandstand finish but the narrow loss was a severe dent to our record.

The stakes are even higher for this clash with an opportunity to move into third spot depending on the other results. We therefore have plenty to play for and with decent weather being forecast, the fixture should be another highlight of the Championship round.

The next couple of weeks will certainly be interesting with another leading club Toulouse visiting Odsal again next week before we travel to Batley in a repeat of the Yorkshire Cup Final.

Toulouse are among the early bookmakers favourites along with the Toronto Wolfpack to win promotion, so it will be interesting to see how we measure up against the punters choices. Toronto defeating Widnes on the 4G pitch in Newcastle by a comfortable score rightly confirmed their outright favouritism tag.

Of course in between this, our much heralded academy lads welcome St Helens in what is certain to prove a real test for our junior production line.

The St Helens club boast an impressive academy squad, and Bulls coaches Mark Dunning and Leigh Beattie will be itching to see their charges square up against some of the best junior talent England has to offer. Keep an eye out for the upcoming fixture dates.

In the wider sport, the World Club Challenge produced a one-sided result with the Sydney Roosters running out as convincing winners over a star-studded Wigan Warriors side, with the final score 20-8.

Brett Morris delivered a spectacular hat-trick to put paid to any hopes of a Wigan victory and, in doing so, handed the Roosters the World Club crown for a record equalling forth time. A mantle justly earned and no doubt assisting to entrench this play-off game on the world stage, along with the World Club champion bragging rights Wigan supremo Ian Lenagan had so desperately sought. Congratulations to both clubs.

Interestingly, the NRL and Super League are revisiting the potential format and timing as part of a ‘review’.

The genesis of the World Club Challenge dates back to 1987 when Graham Lowe, champion Wigan coach and Wigan supremo Maurice Lindsay, had a phone conversation with Ken Arthurson, the Manly, NSWRL and ARL chairman, about the concept of the best of the best playing for the right to be world champions.

Lowie tells the story about how it was that simple: “Mate, one phone call amongst blokes who respected and trusted each other was all it took.” The rest is history.

The train-spotters will point out that Sydney’s East Suburbs played St Helens in 1976 but it took until 1989 before the aficionados got organised and branded it the World Club Challenge, a match involving Widnes and the Canberra Raiders.

It’s a shame that good old fashioned values seem to have slipped sideways as the opposing parties step forward with various agendas in tow.

Lowie is right when he talks about old fashioned values being lost these days. I’ve been fortunate enough to see some of the master coach’s philosophies, particularly ‘Lowie’s Twelve Dynamic Principles’, which are as applicable in sport as they are in business and life generally.

They are well worth a look on YouTube, as large corporations use this approach with staff, tertiary education providers and even the NZ prison system. The Bulls certainly use this philosophy with our players.

Check out Lowie’s views on how to create a winning team. Hopefully, Robert Elstone and Todd Greenberg have charged their Huaweis up. Cheers Lowie!

For the Bulls, our immediate target is in the shape of a desperate York club looking to lay down their challenge.

John Kear knows what to expect and our squad will be looking to bounce back from last week’s result. We expect it to be another nail-biter. Hopefully, our BullsNation fans can help lift the boys to another level.

Every opposing team knows how daunting playing at Odsal is, and they universally dread the colosseum style atmosphere. So don’t hold back – you know your team will be giving everything it takes for victory.

Bring a mate and the kids, and get along to support and cheer your Bulls team at Odsal Stadium.

Kick-off is Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are available in the Club Shop or online at #COYB #BullsNation