Batley v Featherstone: Challenge Cup TV spotlight falls on Yorkshire rivals

John Kear and Paul Broadbent celebrate their Wembley success.
John Kear and Paul Broadbent celebrate their Wembley success.
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Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear knows all about the Challenge Cup given his final wins with both Sheffield Eagles, in 1998, and Hull FC seven years later.

It is no surprise, therefore, that, even though Wembley remains a long shot, he is excited by this evening’s fifth round tie against Championship rivals Featherstone Rovers that will be broadcast live by Sky Sports.

“This is a competition I love,” admitted the 61-year-old.

“I like the immediacy of it, the sense that you’re off the abyss if you lose – it’s that ‘trap door football’ feel.

“I’ve got a great affinity with it but Featherstone Rovers have a decent one as well. They always punched well above their weight in this competition.

“I think it’s a good tie and am delighted it’s been chosen by the broadcasters. I hope it can be as good as the previous Featherstone v Batley game which ended 14-12.”

Some would say, however, it would be fitting if Rovers progressed come what may at the end of a week that saw the death of their club legend Steve Quinn, the prolific centre who kicked the winning goal in Featherstone’s shock 1983 Cup final win over Hull.

Jon Sharp’s side are in good form after a 52-6 win at Workington Town.

“We had a bit of a scratch side but we played really well,” he said.

“Workington are a tough team to beat up there but we showed some really good attitude in our play. We’re going to have to go up another level to beat Batley.

“The fact that the powers-that-be have decided it will be good viewing tells you that they are anticipating an enjoyable game.

“I’m sure John will have his team ready to go. They’ve played well all year and been above us in the league so we’ll definitely start as underdogs.”