BATLEY BULLDOGS’ narrow defeat at Kingstone Press Championship leaders Leigh Centurions has convinced coach John Kear his side can finish the season strongly.
Bulldogs were beaten 37-30 and Kear said: “We were within three minutes of winning.
“They threw a loose pass which hit the ground and, if we had claimed that, I think we would have won it, but we knocked on and they scored from the resulting scrum. We were very close and I was very pleased, because it was a stressful week assembling a team.
“The players who played showed tremendous character and resilience and that’s a big confidence-booster for me. I now know the squad as a squad is an elite Championship squad, rather than just 17. That has given me confidence for the second half of the season.”
Kear gave a debut against Leigh to Castleford Tigers centre Greg Minikin, on dual-registration, as well as centre Callum Casey and forward Dave Peterson, who were both signed last week.
Kear expects Chris Ulugia, Alex Rowe, James Brown and Wayne Reittie to be back in contention for Friday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup visit of Catalans Dragons, and he added: “We will need them because we have to keep the team as fresh and energised as possible, but those who played on Sunday put a marker down.”