Archive for the ‘Bradford Bulls’ Category

Season Review: Bradford Bulls

September 17, 2009

bradfordPoints For: 649

Points Against: 705

Home Record: W4 D1 L8

Away Record (including Magic weekend): W8 L6

Longest Winning Streak: 5

Longest Losing Streak: 5

Top Points Scorer: Paul Deacon (191)

Top Try Scorer: Semi Tadulala (13)

Top Tackler: Jamie Langley (893)

Too little, too late is probably the best way of summing up the season for Bradford. Bradford’s awful start was curious, particularly as the first three sides they beat were Catalans, Leeds and St Helens (the previous year’s top three) yet they also suffered a number of close defeats (and letting off Hull KR with a draw on the opening day proved surprisingly crucial in the end). This meant that their successful run at the end was in vain, because ultimately Bradford had taken their destiny out of their own hands.

The low point for Bradford was almost certainly their humiliating defeat at home to Warrington, when they were completely ripped apart by Chris Hicks and Mickey Higham. That defeat spurred on their first slight rise in form, winning four out of the next six games, most impressively a come-from-behind win against St Helens.  Unfortunately the Bulls couldn’t keep that momentum going until the final five games, where they almost performed a miracle, falling just short of the playoffs.

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Wakefield 16 – 32 Bradford

May 2, 2009

I’ll admit it; I was wondering if Bradford had blown it. They were still in the lead, but with Wakefield having scored two quick tries in succession it appeared the Bulls had surrendered the momentum going into the final ten minutes. 

History now shows that not only was I wrong, but that Bradford also found themselves a second wind to add another two tries to their tally to run out the victors by 16 points. This is probably a fair reflection on a game where Bradford seemed to be the better side for the most part yet somehow managed to offer Wakefield chances that they couldn’t capitalise on.

Probably the most extraordinary facet of this Bull revival in the past few weeks has been their reinvention as an attractive passing team with threat and guile out wide, seemingly at odds with the powerful forward game they are usually associated with. Both Paul Sykes and Ricky Sheriffe on the right side of the pitch seemed able to break the Wakefield defense (although if Wakefield had come back, Sheriffe would have ruefully looked back on blowing one of the easiest tries he could have scored after knocking on Ben Jeffries’ lovely chip kick). With Steve Menzies and Sam Burgess on fire in the pack, it was no wonder that Bradford ended up on top.

Credit to Wakefield though for not giving up. They were denied by the video ref on a few occasions (though only the obstruction call on Danny Sculthorpe was debatable, and I think it was the right call). They really should have been long out of the game going into the final quarter, so for them to pull it back in the manner that they did says a lot about their character. As has been well documented, it’s not been an easy season off the field for Wakefield and I think that after an admirable start the physical and emotional toll is beginning to show. However, Wakefield have overcome adversity already this season, so I think a close defeat to an on-form side is something they will find a way to get over.

Monday Musings: Bulldozed

April 20, 2009

bradford

The higher you climb, the bigger the fall. As Bradford won their third Grand Final in five consecutive attempts at the big one, they had gotten pretty high. They were the poster boys for the success of Super League, with the switch to summertime rugby resulting in an explosion of support for the Bulls and an emergence of a new rugby superpower in Yorkshire. THey were a side that combined a brutal forward pack with a carnage loaded backline, always a lethal combination. They had climbed up to be part of the Big Four, and they had an intimidatory factor about them.

Today, things are different. Friday’s travesty of a result against Warrington (hardly a stellar performer this season) seemed to confirm Bradford’s fall from grace this season. Currently only Celtic Crusaders are below them in the table, and they have the excuse of being in their first top-flight season. Their once vaunted attack is stumbling, with only the Crusaders and Salford scoring less points. The disappointment hasn’t just begun this season either; they’ve gone out in the first round of the playoffs to Wigan the past two seasons. What must make it worse is that their local rivals Leeds are now fighting it out for alpha dog status with Saints this season, and are the current reigning (two-time) champions. Bradford are clearly not the team (or even the club) that they once were, for a few key reasons. 

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Bird Has His Wings Clipped

February 13, 2009
No yet, Bulls fans... not yet.

Not yet, Bulls fans... not yet (Getty Images).

Bad new for Bradford, with the news emerging today that Greg Bird has been denied a visa. This is a major blow for the Bulls as it leaves them without a recognised stand-off for at least the start of the season (even if Bird was one of that converted back-rower type of five-eighth). It was ambitious of the Bulls to expect Bird to get a visa at the moment anyway, as he is due in court on charges of GBH against his girlfriend. Unlike Michel Crocker (also denied a visa) Bird has decided to ride this one out and wait until after the court case in late April, when he hopes to be cleared of the charges and thus be able to get a visa. Of course, if he’s convicted then it’ll throw everybody’s plans out the window, and given how shady a lot of this matter seems to be it’s hard to tell what might happen once it reaches court. Oh well, good thing that David Solomona and Glenn Morrision are getting in the practice now…

Quins / Bradford is off

February 7, 2009

Source: Quins website. Not surprising really, considering the Celtic friendly was abandoned because of a dodgy pitch and that was before the crazy weather of the last week. Y’know, as I looked into my Crystal Ball on Friday I did think I saw an empty Stoop with no-one on the playing surface…

Bradford Bulls: Can the Bulls re-emerge from the shadows?

January 31, 2009

bradford

I’m really not sure what to make of Bradford

But a few seasons ago, they were winning trophies left, right and centre, even becoming the first team to ever win the Grand Final from 3rd place. Nowadays, their fans would probably be pleased with a 3rd place finish, never mind a Grand Final.Perhaps even more gallingly for the Bulls, the pre-eminent side in Super League has become their bitter Yorkshire rivals, the Leeds Rhinos.

Bradford are a side in transition – the problem is we don’t know what they are transitioning to. One the one hand, they’re still a side possessing a wealth of talent, particularly in the forwards. On the other, their back-line is clearly not as strong as it was in the Vainikolo-Hape glory days, and I’m not sure how much teams will fear the thought of Bradofrd spreading it wide.

Part of the problem is that Bradford seem to have developed a policy of bringing in players who over-achieved at smaller clubs, only to find their impact limited on the stage that the Bullls put them on. In this regard, the signings of Michael Worrincy and Ricky Sheriffe are to type. However, this season Bradford have also decided to bring in some big names in Steve Menzies and Greg Bird. Both have associated risks; Menzies is one of the best second-rowers of his generation, but he’s getting on a bit, and as for Bird… well, the Bulls will hope he’s got his head in the game.

Bradford should definitely be in the playoffs, and you would think they would be challenging for a top-four spot and a home berth in the first round, but they just seem to be lacking the firepower to challenge for the title. I think I can see a run to the semi-finals of the playoffs, and maybe a decent Cup run as well (which I suspect might be Bradford’s best chance of a trophy this year). (more…)