Richard Hercock: Plight of Bulls and Broncos has ruined the relegation scrap

So Bradford Bulls have a new coach, and there may at last be some light at the end of the tunnel for those long-suffering Odsal fans.

Odsal Stadium, home of the Bradford Bulls.
Odsal Stadium, home of the Bradford Bulls.

For this once all-conquering side have become something of a laughing stock in the last few years, which would have been unthinkable a decade ago.

Financial troubles have decimated their squad – Franny Cummins was doing the job with both hands tied behind his back – and even without a points penalty, this season was always going to prove tough.

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But the six-point deduction for entering administration looks like being the final nail in Bradford’s Super League run – unless the club pursue legal action.

It is that points deduction which, for me, has spoiled this season.

After enduring season upon season where we were robbed of the excitement and tension of relegation and promotion, 2014 was the year when we should have been looking forward to a return to some nail-biting climaxes.

Instead – and I am sure fans of Wakefield and Salford apart will not be moaning about this – we have a scenario where the two relegation places were never seriously in doubt.

London Broncos were always going to be wooden-spoon contenders. Looking at the chaos and disruption in the capital, just completing this season could be seen an achievement.

Despite the best work of Cummins at Odsal, he just could not squeeze enough out of his assortment of loans and threadbare squad. So it means from Salford, in 12th place, and upwards the target is now a top-eight play-off spot.

I was at Belle Vue on Sunday and watched the Wildcats topple then Super League leaders Wigan Warriors with an impressive display.

The Wakefield fans were in good voice, as usual, but I just wondered if the mood would have been quite so relaxed if Bradford’s penalty had been wiped out on appeal.

Trailing 18-6 in the first half, Wakefield fans could have been contemplating just a two-point cushion over Bradford and a nervous run-in for the final two months of the season. Would the players, like man-of-the-match Taulima Tautai, played with such freedom if the stench of relegation was hanging over them?

We will never know, and Wakefield fans can be relieved at that outcome, but it does make you wonder whether a points penalty is the right punishment for financial problems off the pitch.

It is a question which has been raised in football before now, and one which I do not profess to have the answer.

What I do know, though, is that in Australian-born Tautai – who will leave Trinity at the end of the year to join Wigan – the Warriors have bagged themselves a fabulous player.

I wondered before kick-off, how he would perform against his future employers, but he was deservedly man of the match.

The 26-year-old Samoan international certainly has the quality to match his power and he never shirked a tackle at Belle Vue.

There was one crunching tackle after which I half-expected to see Tautai to square up to his aggressor, but maybe thinking this was a future team-mate he was about to clash with, he stayed calm and the incident passed without flying fists.