No need for points panic, says Kear

BATLEY BULLDOGS coach John Kear says wins at this stage of the Championship are important but insists there is no need to panic.

Despite gaining a valuable victory over Swinton Lions last month and gaining bonus points against Sheffield and Featherstone, Batley still sit just above the relegation zone in ninth place.

However, they have a good chance to move clear as they take on a number of teams placed below them in the coming month.

Starting with Rochdale at Mount Pleasant on Sunday, they face four sides below them on the league ladder in the coming weeks – with fixtures against North Wales Crusaders, Barrow and Workington.

Kear says this is a spell where wins could be key and his players have a good chance if they play as they have been doing.

He said: “All games are big games this year, we have to accept that, but there are still 13 games to go.

“We won’t be relegated if we win or if we lose against Rochdale, but I certainly think if we play right we will gain the win.

“There are lots of points available and there is a real sense of urgency, but it is important not to panic with so many games and points still avaliable.

“We have to be winning games against teams below us and we have let ourselves down in the games we have been expected to win.

“But we have also put in solid performances against teams above us, including beating Halifax, so we certainly have the ability.”

Rochdale travel to Mount Pleasant on Sunday (2pm) smarting from a defeat to Barrow Raiders, who moved off of the foot of the table with the league points gained.

And Kear admits their desperation for a win could make them a dangerous proposition.

“Rochdale have surprised a few teams this year, including us earlier in the season,” he continued.

“Our attitude needs to right, which it has been lately, because if we disrespect a team like Rochdale they will beat us.

“They have two good half-backs and a big forward pack, and their three-quarters have certainly showed their ability too.

“But the unknown factor is what St Helens will offer them on dual-registration because they aren’t in the Challenge Cup this weekend.

“It all depends who Nathan Brown makes available, but I suppose you could say the same for us and Huddersfield.”

The Bulldogs can welcome back Keegan Hirst for the important fixture after he was unavailable against his parent club Featherstone last week.

Batley’s injury woes could also be eased by the return of Mark Applegarth.

Scans revealed the loose-forward has a slight calf tear but Kear admits he is likely to play through the pain against the Hornets.

However, Batley will be without dual-registered Giant Ben Blackmore for the game and the remainder of the season as he has signed for Featherstone Rovers with immediate effect.

The two-try ‘Dogs star impressed against Rovers last weekend and as a result was offered a three-year contract with the club.

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