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Outsiders London face in form Bradford in 1st playoff game
Peacock: Bulls enjoy being dark horses
Bradford skipper Jamie Peacock admits the Bulls are revelling in the position of being dark horses going into the engage Super League play-offs - and insists the players have the belief to go all the way to Grand Final glory.
Despite featuring in five of the seven Old Trafford Grand Finals so far - and each of the last four - the Bulls have largely played second fiddle this year as St Helens and Leeds have occupied the top two spots for more or less the entire campaign.
However, after ending the regular season with eight straight wins, and having seen injuries and poor form affect the Saints and the Rhinos at the worst possible time, Bradford are now being seen as the dark horses of this year?s competition - something that sits well with Peacock, who was recently named as the new Great Britain captain.
?I prefer us to be dark horses actually,? admitted the 27-year-old.
?And it?ll definitely help us being the form team.?
The spirit in the Bulls camp has been typified by their performances in the last two weeks, where they have recovered from seemingly desperate positions to beat both Huddersfield and St Helens by scoring six tries and five tries respectively in the last quarter.
And Peacock, who was again named in the fictitious Super League Dream Team for 2005, revealed: ?There is a belief there that we can win any game from any position and that?s what we?ll need in the play-offs.
?Maybe if we got off to a good start we wouldn?t have to come from 18 points down, but we know we?ve got that experience to be able to do that.
?The main difference is now you don?t get a second chance. Once you lose, you are out. It?s a different way of looking at it - and it poses a big question for us.?
Tony Rea?s side have proved they are more than a match for the very best in the competition on their day - and Peacock admits his men will have to be on their guard from the first whistle if they are to emerge victorious.
He continued: ?It?s play-off football, and they?re a difficult side to play against. They are certainly better than they?ve been over the last few years.
?They?ve brought in players who can break games and score points for them. It?s a bit different from how they?ve been before but they?ve still got that steely edge about them.
?It?s going to be a tough game, we?ve not played each other for a while, so it will be a good challenge for us.?
Much of the credit for the Bulls? excellent recent run has gone to left-wing partnership Shontayne Hape and Lesley Vainikolo, whose return to form and fitness has given their side a cutting edge they perhaps missed earlier in the season.
And coach Brian Noble also pulled a masterstroke by recruiting Great Britain second row Adrian Morley on a short-term deal from the Sydney Roosters to give his pack extra power in both attack and defence - and Peacock believes these men are three key reasons why his side can go all the way.
He added: ?Shontayne and Lesley are just very good, they?re world class, and they play very well together. They?re a massive part of our team.
?They can score tries from anywhere on the field, even in their own 20 metre area, and they are a deadly combination that I wouldn?t like to be facing.
?Adrian?s also made a big impact so far. He?s one of the best players in the world and he?s a player you want to play alongside.
?He?s got that impact in defence and the way he carries the ball up is the same.
?He?s prepared to work as hard as he possibly can and he?s just a great player to play alongside.?
Bradford keep the team which made it eight wins in a row at St Helens, with the versatile Leon Pryce continuing at full-back in place of Michael Withers, their only injury absentee, and Paul Johnson keeping his place on the wing after his two-try show at Knowsley Road.
London are without skipper Mark McLinden through injury and have dropped outgoing club captain Francis Stephenson in favour of the fit-again Steve Trindall while there is a recall for back rower Danny Williams and Zebastian Luisi is set to take over from McLinden at full-back.
Bradford v London. Odsal Stadium, Friday Sept 23
Bradford 18-man: Vainikolo, Deacon, Morley, Fielden, I. Harris, Johnson, Lynch, B. Harris, Parker, L. Pryce, Peacock, Paul, Vagana, Langley, Hape, Meyers, Radford, Henderson.
London 18-man: Ablett, Bradley-Qalilawa, Dorn, Haumono, Highton, Hopkins, Kirkpatrick, Lucky Luisi, Mateo, Mbu, Smith, Sykes, Temata, Tookey, Trindall, Wells, Williams, Purdham.