BATLEY BULLDOGS have an opportunity to rain on Leigh Centurions’ parade today (3pm).
Leigh will be playing in front of their own fans for the final time as a Kingstone Press Championship team after securing promotion to Super League last week. Club owner Derek Beaumont has rewarded supporters by offering free admission and a full house is expected at Leigh Sports Village.
But Batley are the only English team to beat Leigh this year – with a 24-22 win at Mount Pleasant on the opening weekend of the Championship – and after last week’s battling effort away to Leeds Rhinos, coach John Kear is confident his players will rise to the occasion.
“It is going to be a phenomenal crowd again,” said Kear, who pipped Leigh’s Neil Jukes to the Championship coach of the year honour.
“I am really pleased about that. The players enjoyed playing in front of 15,000 at Leeds last week and this is going to be another great occasion. They are going there to party and we are going there to perform. Hopefully if our performance is good enough we can get something out of the game.”
Bulldogs pushed Leigh all the way before losing 37-30 on their previous trip to the Sports Village and Kear added: “As far as we are concerned, we are playing a Super League team.
“We have got the game on our day to trouble anyone, but we have to make sure we turn up and perform well.”
Kear said his players have been buzzing in training following the performance at Headingley, where Bulldogs were cheered from the field after losing 32-0.
“It was nice to have the weekend off,” he added. “The players relished that because it doesn’t happen very often in the Championship.
“Since then they have trained with a focus and an intent, even in the downpour on Tuesday when the force of the rain took our breath away.”
Batley’s players have offered to fund travel to the game for some fans who attended the 76-16 thrashing at London Broncos last month.
Kear said: “Free admission is a good gesture by Derek Beaumont. It is going to be a cheap day out for our fans and we hope we can make it even better for them by playing pretty well.”