Championship preview: Batley v Sheffield

Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear admits he is happy with the way his team have started the season, which continues for them this weekend with the visit of Kear’s former club, Sheffield.

“I’m pleased with how we’ve played in both games,” he said. “I didn’t think we were quite as focused and intense against Featherstone as we were against Leigh. I measured that by things like the kick-chase, which I felt weren’t of the same standard, although we played well.

“I think there’s still improvements and we’ve identified specific areas that we really need to work on in order to give ourselves a chance of success this week. Sheffield are very good.

“They play some good Rugby League and are very combative and competitive, so we’ll need to be at our best to challenge them.”

Centre Shaun Squires picked up a medial ligament injury and joins Paddy Hesketh and Sam Scott on the long-term injury list.

A few choice words from coach Mark Aston at half-time galvanised Sheffield, who went on to beat Halifax 26-6 last week.

“They had scored a few points the week before so it was always going to be a tough one,” he said. “With the brand of football we like to play and they like to play, something’s got to give.

“Defence became the priority and both teams were very good in that first half. In the second 40 minutes I thought we went back to plan and were outstanding.”

“Batley have been very good and there’s quite a number of ex-Sheffield Eagles players there, so it’s always interesting when you play against them. To beat Leigh in the first game was an outstanding achievement. I’m not sure it’s going to be vintage rugby this week, I expect it will be quite muddy with the weather like it is.

“We need to make sure we go about our business the way we have done in the last two weeks and come up with a performance.”