Potter: Play-offs within reach for Bulls

PA Sport
Heath L'Estrange, pictured, and Brett Kearney were standout players for Bradford
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Heath L'Estrange, pictured, and Brett Kearney were standout players for Bradford

Mick Potter insists beleaguered Bradford would deserve every bit of their hard-won place in the end-of-season play-offs after they came from behind to force themselves back into the top-eight reckoning with a 38-26 victory over Widnes at Odsal.

The Bulls trailed 16-4 midway through the first half but rallied, scoring seven tries to move within two points of eighth-placed Hull KR, who lost to Leeds at home, in the Stobart Super League table.

And Potter said: "It (the result) puts us in striking distance and might leave a few people a bit nervous because a team that has been deducted six points - do they want them in the eight? Have we warranted it and should we even have a chance to be in the eight?"

He added: "But the players have worked very hard to be in the eight and the fans want to see them in the eight."

The Bradford boss, who has been working without pay since being made redundant by the cash-strapped club, again heaped praise on his team, especially experienced Australians Heath L'Estrange and Brett Kearney.

"I thought those two were very good for us, along with Ben Jeffries, and they were probably the difference and gave us a little bit more variety in our game and more ball for us to utilise," said Potter.

Widnes got off to a dream start with two tries, from former Bradford winger Patrick Ah Van and Ben Davies, both converted by Rhys Hanbury, in the opening 10 minutes. Bradford responded through Michael Platt but Danny Craven restored the Vikings' 12-point advantage with a try in the 21st minute.

The Bulls hit back again and three tries in a dozen minutes, from Kearney, Shaun Ainscough and Jeffries - his 100th touchdown in club rugby - put the Bulls ahead for the first time. Hanbury scored for Widnes on the stroke of half time but further Bulls' tries from L'Estrange, Platt and Aisncough saw Bradford home.

Ah Van claimed his second for Widnes but it proved to be just a consolation, leaving coach Denis Betts to reflect on another game where they proved very competitive but ultimately came away without the two points.

Betts said: "We conceded some soft tries and switched off a couple of times and they are a really good side who deserve a lot of credit considering what's going on around them."

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