Five things: Bullish future, Saints’ curse and rewarding mediocrity

Neil Barraclough

One – A Bullish future?

Too little, too late – but a fantastic result for Bradford nonetheless.

Victory over Wigan sets up a trip to Headingley in fine style.

James Lowes said: “I’m chuffed for them. There was a lot of personal pride in that performance.

“I’ve just been trying to instil that belief into them about how good this team can be.”

Bulls are set to announce another signing tomorrow as they continue to build for life in the Championship – and what a competition that should be next year.


Two – Devilishly close

They aren’t there yet, but they’re not far off.

Salford’s performance on Friday showed they should make considerable progress next year, having already made huge strides over the last few weeks.

Leeds boss Brian McDermott said: “Every time we handed the ball to Salford, they ran straight through us. They’re a good team, this place was bouncing and it’s great for the game.

“You could put decent money on that you’d beat Salford over the last 10 or 15 years, and that’s not being disrespectful- but you can’t do that at the moment. It’s scary (thinking about Salford next year), but it’s good for the game.”


Three – The curse of the Saints

Awful news coming out of St Helens about Luke Walsh’s injury on Friday night, which leaves Nathan Brown facing the prospect of the play-offs without his most influential player.

Brown said: “That’s the nature of the game we play. Luke has either a dislocated ankle or a compound fracture of his leg, but until he has surgery we won’t know.”

Brown’s focus must surely now turn to putting even more emphasis on Saints’ monstrous pack – and hoping there’s enough in the backs to take at least some advantage, even without Walsh.

It’s another fascinating sub-plot to one of the tightest seasons – at the top of the table, anyway – that we can remember.


Four – Rewarding mediocrity

Widnes’ defeat against St Helens means there is a team in the play-off places that has lost more games than it has won.

The top-eight is a ridiculous system – nobody in the bottom half should be anywhere near being let into the play-offs.

There’s now a race between Widnes and Hull KR for eighth spot, which is top of the bottom half of the table – or the best worst team in the competition, if you look at it another way. Is that really something to get excited about?

We’re not at all convinced by anything to do with next year’s structure, but at least you’ll need to finish in the top four to have any chance of reaching Old Trafford.


Five – A Hull of a finish

Five games to go, and Hull FC look certain to miss out on the play-offs.

Thursday’s 18-18 draw stretched a winless run of games to six, but at least Lee Radford’s side were better than their walloping at Wigan the week before.

Joe Westerman said: “We’ve got six (sic) games left now and, to actually get up there (in the eight), we’ve got to win them. We let that go again tonight, but it was a big improvement.”


Six – The last tackle

A quick thank you to everyone who has read, shared or commented since we began 5 Things last year. It’s been a blast, but unfortunately it’s time for me to wave goodbye.

James and the rest of the team behind Love Rugby League do an amazing job, and it’s been a pleasure working with them.


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Follow Neil Barraclough on Twitter @neilbarraclough