SORE BACKS are a concern for Batley Bulldogs boss Jon Kear ahead of his side’s intriguing derby at Featherstone Rovers tomorrow (3pm).
Bulldogs stunned the Kingstone Press Championship last weekend with a dramatic 24-22 home win over 2015 league leaders Leigh Centurions.
Leigh’s chairman Derek Beaumont had predicted they could win every game this year, but Bulldogs hit back from 22-12 down to snatch a shock success through Pat Walker’s last-gasp penalty goal, despite losing three players due to injury.
Now Kear has challenged his players to prepare the same way – and reproduce their performance – against another team tipped to be pressing for a top-four spot.
“That is the challenge,” said Kear, whose side will be without Sam Scott (knee), James Davey (hamstring) and Brad Day (concussion) tomorrow.
“The players could all have a sore back from patting themselves on it, or they could say it was a great day at the office, now we have got to show the same desire and work just as hard to have more days like it.”
Kear added: “We set some high standards last week and part of that was the intensity and focus in our preparation and performance.
“It is tough to do that every week, but if they set that standard one week they have to endeavour to replicate it week in and week out.”
Rovers coach Jon Sharp was impressed by Bulldogs’ performance against Leigh and has warned his men to expect more of the same.
He said: “John has a reputation for getting his teams ready for big games and they did that.
“They were really good and it was no fluke they got the win. Featherstone-Batley games always seem to be tight affairs and we are preparing for a really tough one.”
Sharp - whose side beat Bulldogs after the hooter at home last season - admitted Rovers need to cut out the errors and penalties which proved costly in their defeat at Bradford Bulls six days ago.
Featherstone lost 22-12 and Sharp said: “We played against a really good Bradford team and it was a close game. We just gave away too many penalties and lost too much ball, but we were still in the game right until the end.”