Batley Bulldogs v Featherstone Rovers: We'll need to be at our best for derby, claim rival bosses
BATLEY BULLDOGS play host to Featherstone Rovers tomorrow (3pm) with both coaches warning it will take their team's best performance of the season so far to claim the points.
Rovers are the side in form, with five wins from their six Betfred Championship fixtures.
Bulldogs have lost twice in four league outings this year, but were outstanding in an 8-4 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup defeat by Leigh Centurions last week and coach Matt Diskin insists they are confident they can beat Featherstone if they improve on attack.
“We played well,” Diskin said of the Cup exit.
“We showed character and plenty of grit and determination, particularly defensively, but we need to be a bit smarter with ball in hand.
“We could have won that game three or four times over if we had been a bit more intelligent with the ball.”
Diskin has been impressed with Rovers’ form this year and is under no illusions about the scale of the task facing his side.
Featherstone’s only defeat was at unbeaten Championship leaders London Broncos and he said: “They play some really good stuff.
“They have recruited well and they’ve got a fantastic squad for a part-time team.
“They have been spending some good money on quality people and playing attractive rugby.
“We are going in as underdogs, but we thrive on that and we are looking forward to it.”
Batley’s preparations have been disrupted by illness and injuries and Diskin admitted fringe players will have to impress over the next few matches.
“The competitive nature of the squad is going to be tested,” he predicted.
“Hopefully our recruitment will stand us in good stead.”
Rovers boss John Duffy is also wary of what his men will face.
He said: “We’ll have to play probably the best we have all year.
“We will have to be better than the performance at Leigh to win there.”
Duffy added: “I watched them against Leigh last week and they were outstanding.
“They have a really good team spirit and they keep turning up for each other. Their defence has really picked up from last year.
“The ground did get heavy, but they worked hard for each other and didn’t want to let anyone get across their tryline.
“We will have to go there with a good game plan and play the pitch well and stick to what we are aiming to do.”
Rovers are backing up from Tuesday’s 66-6 thrashing of North Wales Crusaders in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.
“It was a training night for us, so it hasn’t hindered us,” Duffy insisted. “We came out injury free and I’m sure the lads would rather play then train, so everyone’s fine.
“The club did a good job, they had the pitch ready.
“The ground was heavy and we made a bit of a slow start, but once we got into our rhythm we played some good stuff.”