COACH Francis Cummins has paid tribute to the effort of his Bradford Bulls following yesterday's Magic Weekend defeat to Huddersfield Giants, insisting his players are “up for the fight”.
A heavily depleted Bulls outfit gave a valiant effort despite going down 54-16, having boasted an early lead at Manchester's Etihad Stadium.
With front-rowers Manase Manuokafoa and Jamal Fakir ruled out injured – and fellow pack man Antonio Kaufusi unable to feature against his parent club – Cummins was left with just one recognised prop in his side.
Alongside Adam Sidlow, Chev Walker, who played through the pain barrier, acted as the Bulls' only other front-row option.
Cummins' men battled hard during the first half, going toe-to-toe with the Giants.
But a pair of late first-half tries put distance between the two sides and allowed Huddersfield to kick on.
“I was very proud of the effort the guys showed, we knew what we had to do during the opening 20 minutes with just two props,” said Cummins.
“One of them, Chev Walker, put his hand up and did a tremendous job. He has not been able to walk since Friday, so it was pretty incredible to see him out there.
“Going up against a Huddersfield side, with a wealth of front-rowers, was always going to prove difficult. We had centres in the back-row and back-rowers up front.
“But I was pleased with what we served up given the circumstances. We stuck to what we planned early on and looked dangerous when we did have opportunities to score.
“The scoreline was blown out a little but that is what happens when you make a couple of mistakes against the top teams.
“With only 25 or 26 players in the squad, six or seven injuries makes things very hard and we just did not have the numbers yesterday."
The Bulls travel to the South of France this weekend to battle with Catalan Dragons, the team they sent crashing out of the Tetley's Challenge Cup last month.
With a handful of players in-line to return from injury, in addition to new signings Jordan Baldwinson and Mason Tonks coming into contention, Cummins says he is looking forward to his side's round-14 Perpignan test.
“There is probably a little bit of 'our season starts now',” he added.
“We do, as of this week, look like we are going to be in a bit of a good position. Players are going to become available and we have two new boys coming in.
"We have not really had a pack of forwards for the past four weeks, so having numbers up front will be hugely beneficial for us going to France.
“We are light at the moment but we know what the squad is capable of, we believe we can do this. There are a lot of people out there saying we cannot, but that is fine.
“There is a bit of a scrap on at the moment but we are up for the fight and very much looking forward to this weekend.”
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