Kear prepares Bulldogs to take on Widnes

Kear prepares Bulldogs to take on Widnes

BATLEY COACH John Kear said “all you can do is prepare for the team in front of you” as he takes his team to Widnes on Sunday in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.

It has been 25 years since the sides last met in the competition, and 90 years since the Bulldogs beat the seven-time winners in the tournament.

The ‘Dogs ended a five-match losing run and gained their fourth league win of the season by beating Workington, but Kear knows this weekend’s clash will be a lot harder.

“We’re expecting a tough game. They’ve got outstanding players like Kevin Brown, but we’ll be looking to match them and produce a performance,” he said.

“They’ve won five and got one draw out of their 14 Super League games, but we won’t just go there to withstand the opposition.”

Widnes beat current Challenge Cup holders Leeds Rhinos last weekend, and have beaten Castleford and Warrington in the league this year.

The last time Batley played the Vikings in a cup tie was the 2010 Northern Rail Cup final in Blackpool, which saw the Bulldogs win 25-24.

One player that will miss the trip to play on the artificial surface at the Select Security Stadium is Cain Southernwood.

The half-back, who suffered an ankle injury against Leigh Centurions, has been ruled out for a further six to eight weeks, his boss Kear confirmed.

But some better news for Batley was the surprise return of centre Ayden Faal, who has missed the majority of the season with a shoulder problem.

“He’s a bit stiff and a bit sore but it was big boost for our side,” the Batley coach added.

“It was unexpected, but it was great for him to put his hand up for selection. We are not sure if he’s ready to play back-to-back games yet.”

Last week Kear told The Press he thought his side had “lost their dog in defence,” but the Batley boss said his team have regained some confidence after the win in Cumbria.

“I was delighted with the result, but even happier with the performance. We really showed what we can do in defence,” he said.

“We managed to keep them to zero points for the first 40 minutes, and their two tries, the first one the player was offside from the kick, and the second got a ricochet, which wrong-footed our defence.”

Fortunately for Batley, they didn’t pick up any injuries in a game dominated by the forwards and the bad condition.

“With the weather and the pitch, we couldn’t throw the ball around, but our forwards did well, we had four on the bench, so we had a big pack,”

The ‘Dogs will be hoping to come through the cup weekend without any more injuries as they begin a tough run of league fixtures.

Next weekend Batley will play rivals Dewsbury in the Summer Bash, before taking on Featherstone, Sheffield, London and Leigh.

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