RIVAL COACHES John Kear and Jon Sharp reckon today’s cup derby between their sides will showcase what is good about the Kingstone Press Championship.
Sky television have chosen the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup fifth round set-to between Kear’s Batley Bulldogs and Featherstone Rovers, coached by Sharp, for live coverage (5pm).
The two sides are battling to finish in the Championship’s top four – earning a crack at First Utility Super League opposition in the Qualifiers – and today’s tie is a rare chance for them to play in front of the TV cameras.
“It is a good occasion,” said Kear, whose team were beaten 14-12 at Featherstone earlier in the season and are on a two-game losing run.
“Personally I love the Challenge Cup and the Batley club has got a bit of a history of producing good performances. It is a big game for us, but we will have to play a lot better than we have done in the last two games.”
Third-placed Batley are a point better off than Rovers – who are fifth – on the table and Kear is predicting a tight meeting. He added: “When you play Featherstone, you know if you are going to be in the game it will be close, because they are such a good defensive side.
“We know we have to be on the ball defensively to restrict them and we are also expecting a very tough, very physical, high-energy encounter.
“I have watched their last three games and they are not conceding many points and they are looking more comfortable with the ball.”
Sharp has a similar view of today’s clash.
“They are always close games when we play Batley,” he said.
“We are expecting it to be nip and tuck all the way through and I think it will go down to the wire.
“They are a tough proposition, especially at home and we are going to have to play probably the best we have this year to beat them.”
Of the prospect of featuring in a live televised game, Sharp said: “It’s good, it is really exciting – but I hope not too distracting.
“The feeling around training is it is a big game and I am happy with that.
“Our club has a rich history in the Challenge Cup and we have an obligation to give it our best shot.”