Batley show spirit in time for must-win match

BATLEY BULLDOGS boss John Kear believes his players have finally decided to start their Super 8s Qualifiers campaign following a dominant second-half performance against Huddersfield Giants last Sunday.

Kear’s men have got off to a terrible start in the ‘Middle 8s’ with three straight defeats, the biggest coming at the hands of Championship rivals London Broncos.

But Kear believes his squad have turned a corner, and said: “I’ve been expecting so much from the players and they’ve not been delivering until the second half against Huddersfield. The players were excellent for those 40 minutes.

“We won the second half 26-10 which proves we can compete at this level, but all season we’ve lacked that bit of consistency needed.

“I’ve been saying all year that I want to see the players put in a full 80 minutes at their best with no lapses, but sadly I’ve still to see them do that.

“If we’re going to win games at this level against top full-time teams then we’re going to have to do that every week, which admittedly is a tough ask.”

The Bulldogs face Featherstone next Sunday (September 4), the only other part-time team to qualify for the ‘Middle 8s’, in a game that will likely decide who will finish bottom of the table.

“I accept it’s probably our best chance of getting a win, but just as we showed improvement against Huddersfield, so did Featherstone against Leigh,” said Kear.

“They’ll be targeting us as a must-win just like we’re targeting them in the same way and we know victory would go a long way towards us avoiding bottom spot in the table.

“We really don’t want to lose every game. We’ve not shown the right levels of intensity in recent weeks but I’m confident that won’t be the case from now on.

“I’ll reiterate to fans that my ambition wasn’t to enter the Qualifiers just to make up the numbers, we wanted to compete and pick up points. So far that’s not been the case but we have a good chance to put it right against Featherstone.”

The Qualifiers take a break this weekend due to the Challenge Cup final between Warrington and Hull FC, but despite the extra rest Batley are still concerned about the availability of winger Shaun Ainscough, who is struggling with a knee problem.

Elsewhere, Luke Blake could be in line to make a return.

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