Dewsbury Rams and Batley Bulldogs stepping up preparations for new season

Neil Kelly.
Neil Kelly.
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NEIGHBOURS DEWSBURY Rams and Batley Bulldogs will both continue preparations for the new Betfred Championship season against League One opposition tomorrow.

Rams boss Neil Kelly will be using the visit of Bradford Bulls (3pm) in Paul Sykes’ testimonial game as a dress rehearsal for their first league game against Sheffield Eagles in 13 days’ time.

Matt Diskin.

Matt Diskin.

“I am 99 per cent certain I am going to pick 17 players for this game,” he said.

“I am not going to use it to play all the squad and look at combinations, it will be good for the players who are likely to play against Sheffield if they get the minutes they are going to get in that game. I am 99 per cent certain of what my team is going to be against Sheffield and I want to give it a run out, as near as I can.”

Kelly said Bradford will provide a realistic test. He observed: “They have recruited really, really well and they are probably stronger now than eight months ago when we last played them. They offer a real challenge and we’ll have to be at something like our best to get a result.”

Bulldogs coach Matt Diskin is looking for a solid attacking performance from his team away to Keighley Cougars (2pm).

Batley have won their first two pre-season games, against Dewsbury and Wakefield Trinity and Diskin said: “We made some really positive steps in the last game, compared to the Dewsbury one.

“We wanted to control field position and we did that really well, but there are other areas of improvement. We need to be better with ball in hand.

“Our shape and how we are moving is not too bad, but our lines of running, our timing of runs and the quality of the final pass is a bit off.

“We need to tidy that in the next couple of weeks.”

Batley complete their pre-season campaign against Doncaster next weekend before travelling to Rochdale Hornets in their league opener on Sunday, February 4.

Diskin added: “In defence we did okay against Wakefield, without them really throwing too much at us.

“We had one or two blips, but nothing too serious – just a lack of concentration. We have made some real improvements from where we were this time last year and we need to continue that.”