Batley Bulldogs head coach Matt Diskin has called on his side to transfer what they do in training onto the pitch, saying that if they do that they can be “more than competitive” this Sunday against Featherstone Rovers.
They make the trip to the LD Nutrition Stadium after bringing a nine-match losing run to an end a fortnight ago at home to Swinton Lions. The Dogs still start the Championship Shield in third place behind only Featherstone and Leigh Centurions, but Diskin believes his team can perform better.
“We’re under no illusions that we need to make sure we transfer what we’re doing on the training field onto the pitch,” he said. “That has been the issue at times and we have fallen short against teams around us in the table. We can’t afford to make those slip-ups.
“We’ve got to make sure we deliver what we can because when we do, like we did in the Swinton game, then we look a real quality outfit.
“We’re just having some problems putting what we practice into games, but we’re working hard as a group to deliver that and I’m sure we will in these seven games.”
He added that he thought his side’s “mental approach has got to improve” in the coming weeks.
“We need to make sure the team are all pulling in the same direction. With things like contract renewals at this time of year I think one or two of our players have been slightly distracted by that.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re not playing as individuals, but that we’re playing as a group, and transferring the systems that we’re practicing exceptionally well in training, onto the field.
“When we do that, as we did against Swinton in many parts, with the ball in hand we looked absolutely fantastic. We’ve just got to have the confidence to deliver that and repeat it, without getting bored or frustrated.”
On Sunday they travel to Featherstone to face a side who missed out on the top four by just a single point, despite becoming the first side ever to win away at Toronto Wolfpack in their final regular game of the season.
Rovers have put a combined 90 points on Batley over the course of their two clashes this season, but Diskin says that his side can be “more than competitive” when they meet again.
“Featherstone are a quality outfit who just fell short of the top four and they’re going to be a tough ask,” he said.
“They’ve got some real quality individuals right across the board, but I’m confident in the team that I’ve got, I’m confident in the team that I select, and I think if they can just get some confidence and have some trust in one another to carry out what we’re practicing, then we’ll be more than competitive.
“It’s disappointing that the losses we’ve had [to Featherstone] have been heavy. Once we lose that momentum in a game we seem to leak points way too easily and it’s very frustrating as a coach.
“We have got a bit better in that but we’re just gifting teams too much easy possession with too many errors with the ball in hand, too much ill-discipline, and when you gift possession away you’re going to concede points.
“That’s been out downfall this year. It’s the amount of errors and discipline which has cost us games and cost us some big scorelines.
“Are we that bad a team to concede that many points? I don’t think so. I just think we’ve had a bad run with confidence, making some silly errors with the ball in hand that can be easily rectified if we get our mental approach right."
Diskin also admitted that he would like to go into the following weekend’s derby clash with Dewsbury Rams off the back of a win.
“You look at the derbies that we’ve had and we’ve just fallen short a couple of times against Dewsbury, who stay in the game and grind results out, and they seem to get the edge on us with that.
“We need to stay with our plan a lot longer than we seem to be. Form is irrelevant going into that derby, but it would be nice to go into it off the back of a win.”