Rovers and Rams step it up as Diskin reassures Bulldogs fans

Jon Sharp.
Jon Sharp.
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FEATHERSTONE ROVERS and Dewsbury Rams will continue their build-up to the new Kingstone Press Championship season tomorrow, but Batley Bulldogs insist they aren’t being left behind.

Rovers will play their third pre-season game when York City Knights visit Big Fellas Stadium for Ian Hardman’s testimonial (3pm). The clash with Australian tourists Yowies (3pm) will also be Rams’ third warm-up, but Batley have been left without a fixture after their meeting with defunct Bradford Bulls was called off.

Coach Jon Sharp wants Rovers to carry on from their previous wins against Halifax and Hunslet. He plans to field a strong team and said: “We are scoring some points and defending well.

“That reflects the hard work the players are putting in. Their commitment has been very pleasing.

“Training has gone up another level and that has been reflected in the games so far.”

Of Hardman, Sharp said: “He’s a credit to himself and his family and how he has conducted himself has been outstanding.

“I’ve known him since my days at St Helens, when he was in the academy and to still be playing 15 or so years later is testimony to his attitude and professionalism.”

Recruit Jode Sheriffe and fellow front-rower Tony Tonks are due to feature for Rams tomorrow against the Aussies from Newcastle, New South Wales.

The pair had been set to face Wakefield last week, but Tonks was ill and Sheriffe failed a concussion assessment.

“I’m going to go with a pretty strong team, but give a few of the boys a rest,” coach Glenn Morrison said.

“Last week I thought we scored some really good tries and played a good brand of rugby, but I was a bit disappointed defensively. We broke some systems, but we’ve identified that in review and it’s easily fixable.”

Batley have not played since beating Rams on Boxing Day, but coach Matt Diskin said: “If it was the week before the season having the game called off might affect our preparation. Ideally we would have liked a game to give everybody another chance, but it’s not the end of the world.

“We’ve got Keighley and Castleford lined up so we can continue to fine-tune things.”