BATLEY BULLDOGS coach Matt Diskin says he is happy to have finished the season on a high for the club’s departing players.
A number of first-team players are heading for pastures new, including Brad Day and James Harrison, who are both confirmed signings for Championship rivals Featherstone Rovers.
Alex Rowe also brought his five-year stay with the Bulldogs to an end last weekend, kicking the final goal against Swinton Lions on his farewell.
Although Diskin was disappointed to lose some players, he says that all of them leave on “good terms”.
“We pride ourselves on being a good family club, and we’d welcome back any of them whether as a fan or as a player,” said Diskin.
“We’ve talked these last few weeks about giving those people leaving some good memories and finish on a high, and I think we’ve done that.”
Batley ended the season on a six-match winning run, culminating in last Sunday’s 40-6 victory over Swinton at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium.
They led by just six points at the break before pulling away in the second half, and Diskin says there were glimpses of their quality in the 40 minutes.
“The first half was very scrappy from both sides, (with) a lot of errors,” he admitted.
“In the second half we played some decent stuff, had some decent structures and decent shape with some little bits of individual brilliance as well.”
After the game, the end-of-season awards were shared among a number of players, and the coach says that reflects the number of good individual performances over the course of the year.
“I think there’s been some really consistent performers,” he said.
“Dave Scott, Dane Manning, James Harrison and Brad Day have probably been four of the most consistent, but there’s been good supporting acts from others and I thought them being spread out quite equally is probably just about fair.”
Reflecting on the club’s achievements over the past season, Diskin says that seventh spot in the Championship table is a decent finish for his side.
There has been a big divide between the top six sides and the bottom six, with the Bulldogs finishing 12 points behind Leigh Centurions, while their recent form helped them pull seven points clear of eighth-placed Dewsbury in the final standings.
“I think when you step back and have a look at what we’ve spent budget-wise and everything else, we’ve probably finished where we should have done, with the teams above us all spending more money,” he said.
He acknowledged that it hadn’t been the most consistent campaign from his side though, with that late winning run a contrast to a nine-match losing run during the summer when the squad was crippled by injuries.
“From a team point of view we’re a bit disappointed,” he admitted.
“With a different set of circumstances and a little bit more luck in certain areas, we could have been competing for that fifth and sixth spot.
“But we’ve played in short sequences and with some of the performances, we’ve just been a little inconsistent at key times, and that’s hampered our progress this year.”
Batley have added to their ranks for next season with the signing of Niall Walker from League One side Hunslet.
The young utility back is a former Stanningley junior who spent five years in Australia before moving back to the UK midway through the 2017 campaign.
He can play across the full range of positions in the backs, and joins a number of new signings who have already arrived to bolster the Bulldogs in those positions.
Danny Yates has joined from Rochdale to complement the permanent signing of Louis Jouffret, while winger Iliess Macani has signed from Sheffield and centre Sam Wood will join the side on a season-long loan from Huddersfield.