BATLEY BULLDOGS boss John Kear insists his side have learnt a lot from their defeat against Hull KR as they look to get off the mark in the Super 8s Qualifiers against London Broncos on Sunday (3pm).
The Bulldogs were tipped to finish bottom in the middle 8s before the Qualifiers kicked off and their performance against Hull KR last weekend, which saw fans’ favourite Alex Bretherton make his 150th appearance for the Mount Pleasant club, did little to change opinion.
A 58-18 loss was a fair result admits Kear: “Hull were on top form and were worth the win, that’s for sure.
“It was always going to be tough and I understand people wrote us off beforehand, but I genuinely believe we could have made Hull KR work much harder for their win.
“We were poor and we didn’t do ourselves justice so I’ll be looking for big improvements in our game against London.”
Batley make the long trip to the capital knowing a win against fellow Championship opposition is key if they are to continue proving their critics wrong.
Kear’s men won the last meeting between the two sides at Mount Pleasant last month, in what was the penultimate game of the regular season. But the previous encounter between the sides at Ealing Trailfinders ended with Andrew Henderson’s Broncos cruising to a 32-8 victory.
“We know we have the beating of London and despite what happened last week we will be going into the game feeling confident,” added Kear.
“We’re expecting a really tough test, London were unlucky not to steal the win away at Leigh in their opening Super 8s game, but we learnt a hell of lot from our defeat against Rovers and will be going into the London clash a better team.
“We are always going to learn lots when we play the Super League sides and as a club that’s good because we’re continually looking to improve.
“Over the next few weeks I’m looking forward to seeing how we progress. I fully expect us to improve and if that’s the case then the Qualifiers will have been a success for us.”
Batley will be without Shaun Ainscough and Pat Walker for the trip south after they picked up knee and groin injuries respectively early on in the game against Hull KR.
Meanwhile, it is unclear whether club captain Keegan Hirst will feature in Batley’s second ‘middle 8s’ outing.
The 28-year-old, who has signed a contract with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats for 2017, was left out of Batley’s squad that lost at the KCOM Lightstream stadium.
The club have refused to comment on the situation, but it is understood an internal disciplinary hearing has taken place involving the prop forward.