GARETH WALKER of League Express asks whether Bradford Bulls can still escape relegation as they prepare to face Halifax on Sunday.
ALMOST five months after the start of the season, Bradford Bulls are finally back to zero points – but results elsewhere in the Championship last weekend were cruel.
The Bulls have been slowly working off the 12 point deduction imposed for entering administration and then relaunching the club during the winter, casting them adrift of the rest of the competition.
After a number of false dawns, Geoff Toovey’s side final reached “ground zero”, as it has been dubbed by the club, with an impressive 47-12 win over Oldham.
But they didn’t make up any ground on the “safety” position of tenth, due to eye-catching wins from Dewsbury and Swinton.
Both beat top five opponents, with the Rams continuing their revival under coach Neil Kelly with an outstanding 34-22 win over Toulouse.
That was matched by the Lions, who had a Chris Atkin drop goal to thank for a morale-boosting 13-12 win over Halifax at the end of a week where the club’s board had outlined financial issues to its supporters.
All of that has tightened matters up considerably at the foot of the table.
Bradford remain bottom of course, and are now a point closer to the team directly above them, which is now the Rougheyds after their Bulls defeat.
They are on nine points, with weekend winners Swinton and Dewsbury just a point further ahead on 10, with the Lions having a significantly better points difference.
Above them are Rochdale Hornets, who slipped to a second narrow defeat of the season to Batley, a team that looks to be far enough away on 18 points to forget about a relegation scrap.
For the other five clubs, however – seventh placed-Sheffield should also be able to steer clear – there are some huge matches ahead.
This weekend alone sees Dewsbury entertain Rochdale, where a win would see the resurgent Rams leapfrog their opponents.
Bradford will be looking to back up that Oldham win in a local derby at Halifax, while Swinton travel to Sheffield and Oldham are looking to end a seven losing streak at home to Toulouse.
With 11 games in total still to play, nothing is going to be decided even in the next four matches before the end of the regular season.
But a strong month could certainly give you a clear advantage in what is promising to be a desperate scramble between now and the end of the campaign.
Read Gareth Walker’s Championship Focus every Monday in League Express