Batley Bulldogs’ home Co-op Championship derby against Dewsbury Rams tonight has been labelled the tie of the round.
The game will be broadcast live on satellite TV channel Premier Sports and Bulldogs boss John Kear, right, said: “I think they have picked it as the best game of the round and that is justified.”
It will be Kear’s first competitive Heavy Woollen showdown and comes with Bulldogs sitting sixth in the table, two places and two points adrift of their rivals.
“Dewsbury are in good form and we were, until we perhaps stuttered against Keighley and Swinton,” added Kear, whose side have lost their last two league matches.
“I think that’s a bit disrespectful to Keighley and Swinton, who played very well, but it will be a cracker of a game.
“It’s bragging rights as well as league points at stake. It means a lot to the fans as well as the players and there’ll be a big crowd in a small ground. I am looking forward to it.”
Rams have won two of their opening three games, their first defeat coming at home to champions Featherstone Rovers last weekend.
“We are a team that’s improving every week,” said visiting coach Warren Jowitt.
“Every game we have played in we have shown signs of improvement. We can only get better, we are a new team and we are still finding our feet, but we are playing with a bit of form.”
Jowitt is aware past results will count for little this evening. He said: “I think it’s the biggest derby in this division.
“There’ll be a crowd or 2-3,000 I should imagine and form doesn’t count for anything. It is going to be a really tough game, we got the spoils on Boxing Day and they will want to get the bragging rights.
“It will be a good contest and a good test for both teams. Batley are in good form as well, I know they’ve lost two, but they are playing well as a team.”
Jowitt was buoyed by the performance against Featherstone five days ago, despite the 24-12 defeat.
“It was two evenly-matched teams,” he said. “We had the same amount of possession and line breaks, but they took their chances and we didn’t take ours.
“We took a lot out of that game, going into this one.”
Kear will select from strength, with only knee injury victims Chris Buttery and Danny Maun unavailable.
Dwayne Barker and Luke Blake both suffered knee injuries at Featherstone last week, but Craig Cook, Billy Harris, Danny Samuels and Andy Smith all come into contention for Rams.
Batley Bulldogs from: Preece, Campbell, Potts, Walton, Daley Williams, Brown, Palfrey, Black, Moore, B Smith, Potter, Walmsley, Menzies, Bretherton, Walker, A Scott, Lindsay, Lythe, Mennell.
Dewsbury Rams from: Craven, G Scott, Esders, Faal, Buchanan, Walker, Spaven, Jones, Flanagan, Crossley, Spicer, Bolger, Tonks, Nicholson, Southernwood, Cook, Harris, Samuels, A Smith.
Referee: Clint Sharrad (Manchester).
Kick-off: Tonight, 7.30pm.