BATLEY BULLDOGS are one win away from reaching Wembley after progressing into the semi-finals of the 1895 Cup, and coach Matt Diskin says the club is determined to create “a little bit of history”.
Louis Jouffret’s drop goal in golden point extra-time ended a dramatic game away at York in Wednesday’s quarter-final and sealed a 17-16 victory.
The Frenchman had given away a penalty in the final minutes which was kicked to take the game to extra time, but he made up for it in some style to the delight of his boss.
“(I was calling) Louis Jouffret every expletive under the sun when he gave that penalty away, and by the end of golden point he was a French genius,” said Diskin. “He went from zero to hero in the space of a couple of minutes.
“It’s what cup competitions are about, they’re about drama, it’s what makes these cup competitions so romantic.
“It was key that we got the ball first (in extra time) and we did, and I thought when we played to the left touchline we’d blown it a bit, but Louis struck it beautifully and we’re in the next round.”
Diskin said that there had been no real practice for scoring a field goal, but that winning the toss was crucial as they went on to slot the ball over at the first time of asking.
“They all have a go every now and then (in training) but it’s usually front rowers trying to put their hands up! It was perfect for (Jouffret),” he said.
“If it goes to golden point it rarely lasts long, so winning the toss was massive. If York had won it, it might have been a different story but we were fortunate that we won the toss and worked our way down the pitch.”
The coach praised particular aspects of their overall performance as well, not least the tremendous effort in defence to limit the Knights to only two tries.
“When we were in their half we did some good stuff with the ball, we just weren’t there enough,” he said.
“We made some silly errors and were indisciplined which kept costing us field position, but defensively we were outstanding. We worked exceptionally hard for each other.
“It wasn’t pretty at times but there was a real attitude to work hard for each other. If we continue with that attitude, we’ll get more wins than we will losses.”
With just 80 minutes now separating the Bulldogs from a first-ever appearance at Wembley, their biggest goal this season is now clear.
“We’ve not been quiet about the fact that we’re taking this competition seriously because we don’t know if it will appear again,” said Diskin.
“Batley have never appeared at Wembley so we want to create a little bit of history.”
For now, their attentions turn to the considerable task waiting for them on Sunday, when they host league leaders Toronto (kick-off 3pm).
The match comes just before Canada Day on Monday, but Diskin hopes his side can spoil the party at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium despite doing it tough with three matches in a week.
“We’re aware it’s like another Easter period and we’re going to be down to the bare bones on Sunday,” he said. “As long as we can show some really positive things attitude-wise, we’ll be happy.
“Playing at home you never know, you can cause an upset every now and then. We know we’re going to do it tough this week but we’ll roll our sleeves up and go.”
Scrum-half Danny Yates made his return at York following a two-month lay-off. Yates replaced Dom Brambani in the team after he picked up a calf strain in the defeat of Widnes, although he could be ready to come back in this weekend.