WATCHING the Bulls in recent weeks has been a nerve-wracking experience.

Only the bravest pundit would safely predict the outcome after a month of nail-biting finales.

Toronto’s win at Odsal last week was the fourth game in a row settled by one score or less as each outcome remained in doubt to the 80th minute.

Unfortunately, it now looks like the Bulls’ season will not be going down to the wire in similar edge-of-the-seat fashion.

Even if John Kear’s side sign off with four wins, they still need a major helping hand with scores elsewhere to bridge the five-point gap to the final play-off place.

It is shaping up to be a frustrating near-miss for a club who had targeted the top five in their first year back in the Championship.

But the tight manner of many of their contests – nine of the 23 rounds so far have been separated by no more than seven points – highlights the small margins.

After the cricket scores of League One, the nip-and-tuck nature of the Championship has made a welcome change – even if fingernails have taken a hammering.

Ethan Ryan admits the “if only” scenario of being on the outside looking in at the top five is hard to take.

But that should not mask the progress Bulls have made after making the step up from the third tier.

He said: “This season was always going to be tough.

“We set standards at the start of the year and we wanted to get in the top five.

“But to come up from League One and have a real dig, challenging the top teams in the Championship, deserves credit.

“To know we were so close in these games is frustrating.”

After the magnificent 26-24 win in Toulouse, the Bulls have picked up just one point from three games since.

The wild draw with Swinton was followed by the agony of drop-goal defeat at York and then the near-miss against runaway leaders Toronto last weekend.

As they try to clear heads for the trip to Barrow tomorrow, Ryan knows those results will linger.

“We were speaking in the changing room after last week’s game and saying that if we’re to be challenging for the play-offs or for Super League, then these are the games where you need to show the quality to see out and win.

“Looking back on the games where you’ve lost by a couple of points, those are the days when you need that extra bit of quality.

“If you haven’t got it, you’re not ready for it. Simple as that and we need to be better.

“Look at Widnes away when we got the (last-minute) try disallowed; York, when we lost by a point and now last week.

“You look at those games and think ‘what if’. But we’ve won by narrow margins and other teams might think the same.

“It’s in your head that if we’d done something differently the results might have been different.

“The season has panned out like it has but we can still push for that top five.”

The Bulls need a perfect finish for that unlikely scenario to unfold – and huge assistance elsewhere.

Ryan said: “We need teams above us to drop points while we have to keep winning. If they don’t slip up, then that’s our top-five chance gone.

“It’s not nice relying on other teams to get you there. All we can think about is ourselves and aim to win these next four games.”