- Jun 11, 2014
Bradford Bulls relegated from Super League after Huddersfield defeat
Gareth Walker at John Smith's Stadium
Monday 21 July 2014 02.04 AEST
Bradford Bulls will start next season outside rugby league’s elite for the first time in over four decades, after stuttering Huddersfield condemned them to life in the Championship when the sport restructures in 2015.
For a club that has won four Super League titles alongside two Challenge Cup triumphs and three World Club Challenge wins during the summer era, that constitutes a significant fall from grace. But such has been the mismanagement of the Bulls under a number of regimes in recent years, they may yet look back on their relegation as a major turning point in their history.
Their coach James Lowes, in just his fourth game in charge, saw many of those glory days first hand as the club’s long-serving hooker, including Challenge Cup semi-final and World Club Challenge wins on the same ground. “I’ve been in this stadium a few times, popping champagne and soaked in beer, but it wasn’t like that in there today,” Lowes said when asked about the mood in the changing room.
“As you can imagine it was quite a sad place to be. But let’s be right, it’s a game of rugby, a sport. We want to finish off the season in the right manner and prepare the right way for a tough year in the Championship. That’s our challenge and I’m certainly up for it.” Lowes will have to reshape his squad significantly for life at the lower level, with Salford’s Australian fullback Jake Mullaney understood to be among a host of targets. “Hopefully we can get the ball rolling now,” Lowes added. “That mysterious Plan B I’ve been talking about has rapidly become Plan A.”
His side lacked little in spirit throughout an error-strewn game, but Huddersfield’s quality eventually shone through as they recovered from consecutive defeats. Bradford actually led on three occasions as the teams traded tries in the opening half-hour. Bulls winger Luke George crossed twice and Adam O’Brien once, with the Giants’ Jake Connor and Ukuma Ta’ai responding. When Luke Robinson finished the best move of the game, a 16-all scoreline would probably have been a fair reflection of a largely forgettable first half.
But instead, Huddersfield scored twice more in the four minutes before the break through Chris Bailey and Jermaine McGilvary, who would finish with a hat-trick after an improved second half from the home side. The Bulls rarely wavered in their effort and their full-back Brett Kearney scored at either end of the second half. But their defence could not contain Huddersfield after the break, with McGilvary completing his treble alongside efforts from Brett Ferres, Joe Wardle and Ta’ai again.
Bradford earned a standing ovation from their travelling support at the end, and further words of encouragement from the Giants coach Paul Anderson, himself a former Bull and teammate of Lowes from the club’s heydays. “I spoke to their chairman and he was saying it’s a sad day,” Anderson reflected. “But one thing we can say is that there was a landmark day for this club many years ago when it went down. The club regrouped and came back stronger to be in the position that we’re in now.”
Bradford, for so long a powerhouse of Super League, will hope they can follow suit.
Huddersfield Giants Connor; McGilvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Broughton; Brough, Robinson; Crabtree, Wood, Kaufusi, Ferres, Ta’ai, Lawrence. Interchange: Kopczak, Bailey, Patrick, Mullally Tries Connor, Ta’ai 2, Robinson, Bailey, McGilvary 3, Ferres, Wardle Goals Cudjoe 6
Bradford Bulls Kearney; Foster, Arundel, Purtell, George; Gaskell, Gale; Manuokafoa, O’Brien, Fakir, Olbison, Walker, Donaldson. Interchange Sidlow, Mellor, Pitts, Addy. Tries George 2, O’Brien, Kearney 2 Goals Foster 3.
Referee C Leatherbarrow (Warrington) Attendance 6,145.