Super League preview: Widnes Vikings v Bradford Bulls
Last Updated: 30/03/14 2:36pm
Beware of the Bull will be the maxim at the Select Security Stadium on Sunday as Widnes entertain Bradford.
The Vikings have enjoyed an excellent start to the current campaign, including a hard-fought 7-0 success against Hull FC last week, but winger Patrick Ah Van says that they cannot afford to take his former club lightly.
"They have new owners so the players will be pleased about that and they can just concentrate on the footy now," Ah Van told the club website.
"Playing under the circumstances they have had to endure over the past couple of months won't have been ideal so they will be glad it's all out the way now. We have to be very wary of them this week as they are still a very dangerous side despite their position in the Super League table."
Vikings coach Denis Betts will be delighted to welcome back Hep Cahill to his pack after the Aussie missed the last four matches with injury. On-loan Paul Clough is also set to line-up for his 200th career game.
The Bulls remain rooted to the foot of the Super League table after a six-point deduction earlier in the season for going into administration, but with new owners now on board and a new chief executive in former-Bradford player Steve Ferres, there is a renewed optimism that the club can avoid relegation.
"Our immediate priority is to ensure we avoid relegation," said Ferres. "Everyone knows we are some way behind the nine ball, but we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure Super League survival.
"From there, we intend to take the club forward in a controlled manner," he added.
The trip west sees Bradford boosted by the return of Chev Walker, who missed last week's defeat to Hull KR through suspension.
Even so, the squad remains depleted in number, with Matt Diskin (calf), Jamie Foster (foot) and Adam Sidlow (ankle) out with injuries, in addition to Lee Gaskell, Dale Ferguson and Luke George who are still three to four weeks from returning to action.
"We will leave no stone unturned in helping Francis Cummins strengthen his squad, but it is no secret that clubs are reluctant to let players go during this part of the season," said Ferres.
The Bulls have come away from Widnes with a win and a draw in the two seasons since the Vikings returned to the top flight, so they have proved that they can handle a surface that most find difficult.
However, they have found the finishing of Ah Van more tricky to combat, the winger having posted two tries in each of the last three meetings between the clubs.
Widnes: Ah Van, Brown, Cahill, Clarke, Clough, Craven, Dean, Flynn, Galea, Gerrard, Gilmore, Johnson,, Joseph, Leuluai, Lloyd, Owens, Phelps, Tickle, White.
Bradford: Addy, Blythe, Bridge, Conroy, Donaldson, Gale, Kear, Kearney, Henry, Mellor, Manuokafoa, Mullally, O'Brien, Olbison, Purtell, Roberts, Sutcliffe, Walker, Wood.
First Utility Super League
Tue 30th Jun
Hull K R34 - 28Salford Red Devils
Wed 1st Jul
Wakefield Wildcats26 - 16Hull FC
Thu 2nd Jul
Warrington Wolves17 - 6Wigan Warriors
Fri 3rd Jul
Leeds Rhinos46 - 18St Helens
Sun 5th Jul
Huddersfield Giants0 - 0Hull K R
Hull FC0 - 0Wakefield Wildcats
Salford Red Devils0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Castleford Tigers0 - 0Widnes Vikings
Thu 9th Jul
Wigan WarriorsvsLeeds Rhinos
Fri 10th Jul
St HelensvsHuddersfield Giants
Sun 12th Jul
Hull FC0 - 0Castleford Tigers
Salford Red Devils0 - 0Hull K R
Wakefield Wildcats0 - 0Warrington Wolves
Widnes Vikings0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Thu 16th Jul
Warrington WolvesvsSt Helens
Fri 17th Jul
Hull K RvsHull FC
Leeds Rhinos0 - 0Salford Red Devils
Wigan Warriors0 - 0Widnes Vikings
Sat 18th Jul
Catalans DragonsvsHuddersfield Giants
Sun 19th Jul
Wakefield Wildcats0 - 0Castleford Tigers
Thu 23rd Jul
Hull FCvsWigan Warriors
Fri 24th Jul
St Helens0 - 0Hull K R
Sun 26th Jul
Huddersfield Giants0 - 0Wakefield Wildcats
Leeds Rhinos0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Widnes Vikings0 - 0Salford Red Devils
Castleford Tigers0 - 0Warrington Wolves
Super League 2014, round seven
Bradford coach Francis Cummins refused to blame another week of off-field headlines for his side's defeat at Widnes
Paul Anderson admitted his side only have themselves to blame after blowing a 14-4 lead to lose 33-14 to Warrington.
Hull KR won successive Super League games for the first time since July with a commanding 44-6 victory over Wakefield.
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