Championship Preview: Batley Bulldogs v Sheffield Eagles

Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear was desperately disappointed with his side’s 44-16 defeat to Featherstone Rovers last week: “I was disappointed not only with the result but more importantly from a performance perspective,” he said.

“In the first half we were woeful. We let Featherstone completely dominate us in every single way and the score line reflected that. There was a response in the second half but that’s nothing less than I expected; the first 40 wasn’t good enough.”

Looking ahead to the Sheffield game he said: “Although it’s a short turnaround it’s been quite an intense turnaround and we’ll have to see if it pays dividends on Friday night.

“We’ve got a series of tough games because we’ve played Featherstone, who are vying for top four, and prior to that Dewsbury, who were also vying for top four. We’ve got Sheffield and then London and Leigh, both full-time teams, so we’re in the middle of a tough period.

“But that’s what this league is about and you don’t want anything else. We need to make sure we rise to the challenge.”

Fullback James Craven, who missed last week’s game with a heel injury, is again doubtful for this week.

Mark Aston, the Sheffield Eagles coach said: “At Hunslet we were a bit scratchy in the first 40 minutes and made it hard work, but credit to them. In the second half I suppose it was a bit more like what we expect from Sheffield Eagles when they’re on top of their game. We can rack up points and were clinical so I was pleased, but there’s still a lot of work to do

“Batley are a different team at home, no doubt about that. John (Kear) knows how to motivate them for big games. He won’t be happy with where they are in the league and he’ll get them fired up to try and beat us.

“There’s no point in us putting in a performance like that last week after the disappointment of the previous week, and not backing it up – that’s the challenge for us. We tend to get better in the second half of the season so let’s hope we do!”

Half-back Cory Aston is suffering from a trapped nerve in his neck and won’t play but Dom Brambani will come back in while Dave Petersen, on loan from Bradford, will make his debut.