Batley Bulldogs coach Craig Lingard says his players have to return to the performance levels produced earlier this season if they are to have any chance of matching, or bettering, last year’s run to the play-off semi-finals.
While assured of a top-six finish, the Bulldogs head to neighbours Dewsbury Rams for a Premier Sports-televised clash tonight (Monday, August 29) eager to snap a losing run which goes back three matches.
It’s been a tough campaign for the Rams, who with only seven points from 24 goes (Batley have 32) are facing up to relegation, but have been buoyed by their 22-16 win at Workington and are desperate to avoid a third Heavy Woollen derby defeat and put one per on their rivals.
Beaten 36-20 at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium in April, Dewsbury were walloped 60-6 at the Summer Bash at Headingley last month, and coach Liam Finn said: “We need a response, because that result was embarrassing.”
Meanwhile Lingard, whose side have won only twice in six, after 13 wins and two draws in 18 league games, admitted: “We’ve been five to ten percent off it in most areas of our game recently.
“It’s proved costly, because the teams we have been up against (Halifax, Barrow and London Broncos) have played well and have taken advantage.
“The defeats haven’t been particularly heavy, but I don’t think we can complain about them, and we need to get back to where we were.
“But we know Dewsbury will be up for it, and given their tight pitch and big pack, it could well be a bit of a battle down the middle.
“The beauty of the set-up we have is that the play-offs are a separate competition, but we’d rather go into them on the back of a few wins than a run of defeats.”
Batley – who last season beat Bradford 23-10 in a play-off eliminator before a 51-12 semi-final loss to eventual Million Pound Game winners Toulouse in France – have three league games remaining.
After the visit to Dewsbury, they host Bradford before a trip to leaders and promotion favourites Leigh.
Dewsbury halfback Paul Sykes, who recently made his 500th career appearance, needs one more to reach 150 for his hometown club. Teammate Michael Knowles is two off 400 career appearances.
Dewsbury squad: Jimmy Beckett, Jack Blagbrough, Reiss Butterworth, Lewis Carr, Connor Davies, Davey Dixon, Dale Ferguson, Brad Graham, Ollie Greensmith, Jon Luke Kirby, Michael Knowles, Ben Mathiou, Aidan McGowan, Adam Ryder, Jordan Schofield, Robson Stevens, Jake Sweeting, Paul Sykes, Calum Turner, Jackson Walker.
Batley squad: Luke Hooley, Kieran Buchanan, Josh Hodson, Johnny Campbell, Ben White, Tom Gilmore, Adam Gledhill, Dane Manning, Lucas Walshaw, James Brown, James Meadows, George Senior, Tom Lillycrop, Louis Collinson, Dale Morton, Nyle Flynn, Oli Burton, Greg Johnson, Martin Reilly.
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