BATLEY BULLDOGS will have a point to prove when they play host to neighbours and fierce rivals Dewsbury Rams tomorrow (3pm).
It is the sides’ fifth meeting of the season and Batley have won just once so far, despite being the more consistent team over the course of the campaign.
They are in confident mood after a 44-18 win at Bradford Bulls on Monday, when Rams were surprisingly slipping up 35-28 at home to relegation-threatened Swinton Lions.
“It is going to be a big one,” Batley coach Matt Diskin predicted. “They have got the better of us this year and in these local derbies form goes out of the window.
“A couple of our worst performances of the year have been against Dewsbury. We got hustled out of the game and we didn’t know how to handle that at the time, but we have developed as a team and we know how to cope with those situations, so we are looking forward to it.”
Bulldogs will secure second place on the Kingstone Press Championship Shield table – and a home semi-final – if they win.
“You can’t just get to the semi-finals and switch on the intensity,” Diskin warned. “You have got to build that. For me it is about building week to week and fine tuning how we are playing, so when we get to the semis we can play the right game plan and with the right level of intensity that will hopefully take us through.”
Dewsbury boss Neil Kelly regards Batley as much tougher opponents now than earlier in the season.
“Matt Diskin has done really well with them,” he said. “No two coaches are the same and when a new coach comes in players have to adapt to a new way of working.
“He got off to a sticky start, but he seems to have got the players around to his way of thinking and that’s great for him as a coach.”
Rams are fourth and Kelly admitted they expect to travel to table-topping Toulouse in the play-offs. He said: “I don’t think we can overtake Sheffield now.”
Dewsbury full-back Josh Guzdek is set to miss the rest of the season due to a hand injury, Gareth Moore and Robbie Ward (both shoulder) remain on the casualty list and Kelly said at least two other players are in doubt after being hurt on Monday.