Batley Bulldogs v Bradford Bulls: How Batley pulled off an unlikely play-off charge

Smart recruitment and an unshakable team spirit are two of the main ingredients behind Batley Bulldogs’ fourth-placed finish this season.

By Ben McKenna
Friday, 24th September 2021, 12:11 pm
Updated Friday, 24th September 2021, 12:56 pm
Batley Bulldogs head coach Craig Lingard. Picture:
Batley Bulldogs head coach Craig Lingard. Picture:

That is the view of head coach Craig Lingard, who is preparing his side for a Championship play-off contest with Bradford Bulls on Saturday.

The first round play-off clash will be staged at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium after Batley defeated Halifax Panthers on Sunday to leapfrog the Bulls into fourth to earn home advantage.

The Bulldogs have raised plenty of eyebrows in their run to the play-offs.

If victorious on Saturday, in a game that will be broadcast on Sky Sports, Featherstone Rovers or Toulouse Olympique await in the semi-finals.

“The recruitment was key for us. We got a really good spine together with Tom Gilmore and Ben White at half-back, along with Luke Hooley in at full-back and Alistair Kaye and Ben Kaye in the number nine position,” Lingard said of Batley’s unlikely charge into the play-offs.

“We have managed to maintain that spine throughout the season which has allowed us to get that consistency.

“The team spirit that the group has managed to garner has helped. When we have been in tight situations, with our backs to the wall, they have all pulled together and worked hard for each other.

“That is something that you can’t plan for. You can hope, you can work to get that but it all comes down to the players and how much they want to work together and for each other. The players are all good people and that comes down to the recruitment as you always find out what type of person they are.”

Whatever the outcome on Saturday, the Bulldogs look well equipped for another play-off challenge in 2022.

They have retained the majority of their current squad as Lingard aims to turn the Bulldogs into regular challengers at the top end of the table.