Batley Bulldogs geared for pivotal Championship clash with play-off rivals York Knights

BATLEY BULLDOGS coach Craig Lingard hopes a softly, softly approach to match preparation will help his side produce a hard-hitting performance at in-form York Knights tonight (Monday, September 18).

Last season’s Championship Grand Finalists clinched a first win in seven league games at home to Whitehaven last time out to climb back into the play-off zone.

Lingard knows another victory, this time in front of the Viaplay Sports television cameras, would mean Batley will be in control of their final position ahead of Saturday’s home clash with already-relegated Newcastle.

But while the Bulldogs have beaten York twice already this year (at home in the league and away in the 1895 Cup), he also knows the Knights have hopes of gate-crashing the play-offs after an impressive run of four straight wins, most recently at Bradford, and eight in their last nine league outings.

It’s been a busy campaign for Batley, who in winning 22-8 at York in August reached the 1895 Cup Final at Wembley, and Lingard reckons the lack of a weekend off since the April international break has taken its toll on his part-time, and compact, squad.

“It’s been a long old season, and we’ve been limiting what we do in training to try and freshen the boys up a bit,” he explained.

“They aren’t going to get any fitter than they already are, and they are an honest bunch who know what they need to produce to have a chance of winning games.

“That length of losing run was something they hadn’t gone through as a group before, and it became a bit of a test of confidence and belief.

“It’s a big relief to have ended it and broken that losing habit, and hopefully we’ve been galvanised by that (25-12) result against Whitehaven.”

Henderson is keen to put on a show in York’s last home game, saying: “I’m very thankful to the supporters.

“It’s my first season experiencing them and what they bring, and we’ve seen them turn out in numbers, on the road too.

“There have been a couple of games which have been pretty tough watches for them, but for the back end of the season, I think they’ve seen plenty of effort and endeavour from the players and thankfully, we’ve been able to give them a bit more to cheer about.”

York captain and forward Chris Clarkson will retire this year.

York 21-man squad: Jason Bass, Joe Brown, Chris Clarkson, Josh Daley, Jesse Dee, Oli Field, Conor Fitzsimmons, Myles Harrison, Liam Harris, Will Jubb, Danny Kirmond, Ronan Michael, Pauli Pauli, Taylor Pemberton, Oliver Pratt, Harry Price, Brenden Santi, Ukuma Ta’ai, Jordan Thompson, AJ Towse, Brad Ward.

Batley 21-man squad: Luke Blake, Oli Burton, Josh Hodson, Greg Johnson, Elliot Kear, Samy Kibula, Aidan McGowan, James Meadows, Martyn Reilly, Josh Woods, Kieran Buchanan, Ben White, Adam Gledhill, Alistair Leak, Dane Manning, Lucas Walshaw, Michael Ward, George Senior, Dale Morton, Ben Kaye, Nyle Flynn.