Kear praises team desire

BATLEY boss John Kear has warned his side’s trip to face Championship strugglers Whitehaven could prove ‘very tricky’.

The Bulldogs travel north to face  the Cumbrians tomorrow (Saturday 6.30pm) knowing a win would edge them that little bit closer to securing a spot in the middle eights this year.

However in their previous two meetings this season Kear’s men have edged both games by a single point.

Batley, who have developed a reputation for coming out on top in tight matches this term, are confident following their narrow win over Dewsbury in a game when the Mount Pleasant outfit didn’t play to their potential.

“We were poor with the ball,” admitted Kear.

“We won the derby through desire and determination, but it is a huge confidence boost when you win games without playing your best rugby in such a competitive league.

“We’ve had plenty to work on for this weekend’s game, both on the pitch and also logistically, this Whitehaven game could be very tricky.”

Kear will go into the encounter with no new injury concerns following a physical Heavy Woollen derby, and Frankie Mariano is expected to feature again after impressing the Batley boss last weekend in what was only his second appearance for the club.

But Kear admits dual-reg signing Greg Minikin is unlikely to be available after the centre put in a good performance for his parent club Castleford Tigers in their Challenge Cup quarter-final against Wigan last weekend.

Alex Rowe also came through a bruising battle with the Rams okay as he continues to nurse a knee problem through to the end of the season.

“It was another big plus that the players came through the derby unscathed,” said Kear

“It would be a terrible time to pick up injuries to key players, you want as many players to choose from as possible and that can give you an edge at this time of the season.

“I’m expecting the players to perform better with the ball this weekend but if they don’t and we scrape another win I will be happy because the result is the most important thing to us now.”

A victory over Whitehaven would set Batley up for two of the most important home games in recent times.

They face middle eight challengers Featherstone before welcoming London to the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium and, having only lost one home game all season, Batley fans are starting to think their top four dream may become reality.

But as ever Kear is refusing to look past the next game and he added: “Those home games won’t count for much if we slip up against Whitehaven.

“We can’t look down the line because that will distract us and that won’t win us games.”

In other news Brad Day, Wayne Reittie and Alistair Leak have all signed contract extensions keeping them at Mount Pleasant until the end of the 2018 campaign.

“It’s great for the club that Brad, Wayne and Alistair have all decided to extend their contracts,” added Kear.

“We have a close-knit group which is important if you want success.”

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