Five things: Crowd low for Bulls, Widnes on the up and brilliant Brierley

One – Bravo, Bulls

It wasn’t pretty and it certainly wasn’t flash, but it’s hard to overstate the importance of Bradford’s win over London.

Imagine the mood at Odsal, after the week they’ve just had, if they’d then lost against the perceived weakest team in the comp in front of the Bulls’ lowest ever Super League attendance of 5,410.

Instead coach Francis Cummins can at least go home tonight knowing he is contributing everything he can to Bradford’s cause, however bleak it appears away from the field.

Cummins was also admirably dignified on the topic of Wakefield’s move for Nick Scruton.

He said: “It’s dog eat dog, isn’t it? You’ve got relegation back and we’re in the vulnerable position. Wakefield have got to do what they’ve got to do.

“The one thing I’m not carrying around is hatred, because it just burns you up. I’m not willing to use my emotions on stuff like that. I can’t blame Scruts and I can’t blame Wakefield; my concern is those lads left.”

Credit too to London, who had a genuine dig at Odsal – “outrageously gutsy” was Tony Rea’s verdict.

They certainly look capable of picking up wins against Super League’s lesser lights.


Two – To spend or not to spend

There can now be no doubt that rugby league is being torn apart by a philosophical split that won’t go away anytime soon.

Bradford’s situation is a stark warning to clubs who can’t or won’t manage their finances properly.

But should other clubs be restricted from making their own spending decisions in the way they are?

Marwan Koukash failed at a Super League meeting on Wednesday to have his marquee player rule introduced.

But he came out all guns firing the following day, insisting: “It didn’t happen, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. I’m more determined than ever.

“This is not about Salford, this is about rugby league in general. It’s about going to war against union and the NRL.”

That talk provoked a swift response from Langtree Park, where Eamonn McManus likened the idea to the dreadnought race.

“We don’t need them, we can’t afford them and they will sink the very nations which purchased them,” said McManus. “Dreadnoughts were no more than the vanity projects of attention-seeking peacock royals such as Kaiser Bill…”

Man the barricades, folks. We could be here quite some time.


Three – Bring me sunshine – and a play-off spot

Widnes insist they’re the proof licensing works and Friday’s win over Huddersfield offers a bit more weight to their claims.

Late last season the Vikings won at Warrington in a first sign that they are starting to compete with Super League’s top-end teams.

On Friday they overcame deficits of 10 points and eight points, with Joe Mellor providing more evidence of his burgeoning talent. More performances like that and the top eight will become a real possibility.

Denis Betts said: “It’s a bit like Morecambe and Wise, who took 25 years to become an overnight success. We’ve learned how to deal with pressure over the last couple of years.”

Next up, Salford – who’ve got their own problems after spending Thursday playing all the right notes, just not necessarily in the right order.


Four – Nathan Brown’s guide to managing expectations

When is a favourite not a favourite?

Early-season pace-setters St Helens had just blown away any notion that Salford are top four contenders in 2014, but Nathan Brown was still doing his best to downplay expectations.

“We’re a work in progress,” said Brown.

“We are where we are at the moment, but we know to catch up with Wigan, Leeds and Huddersfield we’ve got to keep our feet on the ground and keep working to improve.”

Catch up? You’re top of the table, man!


Five – Brilliant Brierley

A hat-trick for Leigh’s Ryan Brierley might not appear anything special in the Centurions’ 52-0 win over Whitehaven.

Thing is, Brierley has got trebles in each of Leigh’s first three games of the new season, including a five-try haul last week against Barrow.

Has anyone else ever matched 11 tries after just three weeks of the season?


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Follow Neil Barraclough on Twitter @neilbarraclough

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