NOTHING IS being taken for granted as Batley Bulldogs prepare for one of the biggest games in the club’s history.
If Bulldogs avoid defeat in their final match of the regular season – at Swinton Lions tomorrow (3pm) – they will finish in the Kingstone Press Championship’s top-four and secure a place in the First Utility Qualifiers.
Bulldogs are third, with a one-point gap over chasers Bradford Bulls and Featherstone Rovers. Halifax are another two points adrift in sixth.
If Batley slip up tomorrow they could still hang on to their top-four spot, but would need Halifax to lose at home to London Broncos and there to be a positive result in the game at Featherstone.
Facing the likes of Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants in the middle-eights would be arguably the greatest achievement of coach John Kear’s career, which is already littered with giant-killing feats.
Despite having one of the smallest playing budgets, Batley have punched above their weight in a division which includes four full-time teams.
They have been the surprise package all year, but Swinton won 32-24 when the teams met at Mount Pleasant in April and the Bulldogs boss knows there is work still to be done.
“They are a good team,” Kear said of Swinton, who are eighth and need points to avoid being dragged towards the relegation zone.
“They are one of only two Championship teams to beat us at our place so it will be a really difficult game.
“They are a very good attacking team and in this weather games tend to be a bit of a points fest, so we need to be on the ball.”
Kear reckons his men have already proved they can handle the pressure, by coming through last Sunday’s must-win clash with London.
That was the perfect response to the previous week’s defeat by Featherstone.
And Kear added: “We have got to keep the players focused, but we are in a great position and we want them to be excited.
“The pressure was on us last week and we handled it really well. We didn’t the week before against Featherstone, so we have got to replicate what we did last week.”