Batley and Dewsbury seek final reunion

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RIVALS BATLEY Bulldogs and Dewsbury Rams are in contrasting situations going into the Kingstone Press Championship Shield semi-finals.

There is no pressure on Rams ahead of today’s tie at Toulouse Olympique (2.30pm UK time), but Batley Bulldogs will be favourites to see off visitors Sheffield Eagles tomorrow (3pm).

Rams finished fourth on the Shield table, eighth overall in the Championship, three places behind Toulouse.

Batley were second in the Shield, with Sheffield third.

Dewsbury are without Rob Spicer who was unable to make the trip to France due to work commitments and coach Neil Kelly said the odds are stacked in Toulouse’s favour.

“It is strange having to leave players behind because of work commitments when we are playing a full-time team,” he pointed out.

“They could have come over here and had everyone available so I think it is weighted towards Toulouse.

“I understand they finished top and have earned home advantage, but I don’t think it’s an even playing field and that’s something that maybe needs to be looked at.”

But Kelly added: “It is a great game for us, it is a game we never thought – earlier in the year – we would be in.

“We have beaten them twice this year and we are going there with a good chance.”

Meanwhile, Batley boss Matt Diskin says it will be a “massive achievement” if his team reach the Shield final.

“It is our biggest game of the year,” Diskin said of tomorrow’s play-off.

“Whatever level of competition you are playing in you want to do your best.

“It would be a massive achievement to get to the final and we want to be there.”

Eagles are making their second successive trip to Mount Pleasant after a 34-18 defeat in the final league round last Sunday.

“It [tomorrow] will be a different game,” Diskin warned.

“They rested a few and it is going to be a different team personnel-wise and a different Sheffield team attitude-wise.

“It is do or die, knockout football. We are expecting a tough encounter.

“We have got to get our preparation right and make sure we are good.”