BATLEY BULLDOGS coach Matt Diskin admits his side face more “tough opposition” when they take on Widnes Vikings this weekend.
After coming up against Toronto Wolfpack and Toulouse Olympique in their last two Championship fixtures, the Bulldogs encounter yet more full-time opposition on Sunday (kick-off 3pm) at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium.
Having been comfortably beaten by both the Canadian side and the French outfit, the coach knows how big a task they face against the Vikings.
“They’re another full-time team we’re coming up against, and that brings us different challenges,” he said.
“They’re very clinical and they’ve been able to spend a lot of time on the small details, and they’ll be tough opposition for us. They’ve started the season well and picked up the points very quickly.”
Widnes remain bottom of the table after their 12-point deduction for entering administration, but have already recovered to zero points after six wins from their opening seven outings.
A win this weekend would see them overtake Batley, who have only picked up one victory in their first eight and would likely be pushed into the relegation zone.
The Bulldogs were at least able to enjoy some relief from their Championship struggles last weekend, romping to a 62-6 home win over amateur side Lock Lane in the Challenge Cup fourth round.
Diskin concluded that the match had been “a good confidence-builder” for his struggling squad.
“Defensively in the second half we controlled field position and made it very hard for Lock Lane,” he said after the game.
“From an offensive point of view it’ll build some confidence and some relationships where in the last few weeks we’ve not been as clinical as we need to be.
“We’ve got to back that up against the quality opposition that is in our league. No disrespect to Lock Lane but their middles wouldn’t have had the same level of conditioning as ours and we knew that and got the rewards for that later on.
“Our job now is to make sure we can do that against teams of a higher quality,” he added.
The cup tie gave the Bulldogs boss the opportunity to try out different players and combinations, with eight personnel changes made to the team that lost to Toulouse the previous week.
Both Wayne Reittie and Dom Brambani were handed recalls, with Reittie scoring a hat-trick of tries on the wing and Brambani coming into the halves in the second half alongside fellow returnee Danny Yates as the team rotated its pivots.
“Danny Yates and Dom Brambani came in and got 40 minutes apiece to try and look at the things I’ve asked them to improve, that have stopped them getting selected the last few weeks,” explained Diskin.
“I thought they tried today, so it gives me a selection headache going into (this) weekend.
“Wayne’s a very good player and we know he can score tries. I’ve been asking him to work on the smaller details of his game, off the ball, and we’ll have a look at the video and see if he took those messages on board. But we know he can finish and carry a ball, it’s the smaller details that I’m asking of people at the moment. They’re getting up to speed and they’re working hard with it, and it was good to see those guys putting a little bit of that into practice.”