Bradford’s shock defeat to Dewsbury last week garnered plenty of interest, notably because it moved the Bulls down to sixth in the Championship table.
With Batley, Featherstone and Halifax all winning convincingly, the Bulls are now two points behind the chasing pack, although they will go above both Featherstone and Halifax if they win their game in hand against Oldham next week.
Nevertheless, the culmination of the regular Championship season now promises to be a gripping drama, with the Bulls in real danger of not even making the Qualifiers.
Although Bradford lost at the Summer Bash, it appeared that they were on the right track following their pulsating contest with Leigh.
However, they were void of creativity with the ball against Dewsbury and ultimately fell to defeat against the Rams.
That has now completely opened up the race for the top four. Leigh and London look certainties for the top two spots, leaving Batley, Featherstone, Halifax and the Bulls fighting it out for the two remaining spots, and the form of the three part-time outfits suggests that Bradford have a lot of work to do.
Current League table
3. Batley Played 16 21 pts
4. Featherstone Played 16 20 pts
5. Halifax Played 16 20 pts
6. Bradford Played 15 18pts
The Bulldogs are in prime position with a point more than Fev and Fax, and three ahead of Bradford. Their season threatened to fall apart in April as they lost three consecutive games, but a massive victory over Halifax at the start of May instigated a four-game winning streak that has seen them steady the ship and leave them in a strong position.
Other than their high-profile catastrophe against Halifax at the Summer Bash, Jon Sharp’s Rovers have been in terrific form, winning four of their last five matches and scoring over 30 points in all of those victories, including a 42-18 hammering of London.
And finally, Richard Marshall’s side have once again become the team to watch in the Championship, just as they did at this stage last year. Three consecutive victories have seen Fax nil the aforementioned free-scoring Rovers, while they put 60 points on Sheffield on Sunday. With Simon Grix allegedly set to make his debut soon, Fax’s late push could be about to get underway.
The nature of the Championship means all four teams will most probably slip up between now and the end of August, but Rohan Smith certainly has a big task on his hands in making the top four alone, never mind earning promotion.
What implications would follow should Bradford not make the top four are unclear, but it would certainly be a very disappointing end for the Bulls following their narrow miss of promotion last year.
On the flip side, an opportunity for some of the Championship’s other clubs to have a pop at the Super League teams, and the prize money that follows, could really help the Championship prosper. Halifax could well go full-time should they make the top four again, while Batley and Featherstone would undoubtedly attract more home fans if they were to be successful.