THE derby clash between Dewsbury Rams and Batley Bulldogs, which kicks off the second day of Summer Bash at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool on Sunday (12.45pm), promises to be something special for Dewsbury prop Byron Smith.
The Welsh international was a Batley player last year but in the off-season made the short journey over the hill to Dewsbury.
“Up until this season I’ve always been on the other side,” he said. “I suppose whatever club you’re at, you want to win when you play against an old club. You want to show up well against your old team-mates and fans as well.
“There’s a long standing rivalry between the two teams. We have a friendly against each other on Boxing Day and in all the league games there’s always a little bit of added extra incentive to get one over on them.”
The Rams beat the Bulldogs in their earlier league meeting but Smith believes that will count for nothing when the teams confront each other in Blackpool. “I don’t think we can take anything from the previous win, we take things on a game-by-game basis,” he said.
“Batley are a little bit lower than us in the league but not a million miles away. They’re a team we need to respect because they’re a good side, as they showed against Widnes in the Challenge Cup at the weekend – they pushed them really close.
“I don’t think any of the boys will be thinking back to the previous game against them. They know they will have to put in a good performance to get the result we want.”
And getting the two points has assumed even great importance following Dewsbury’s 15-8 defeat at Sheffield Eagles on Tuesday. That result sees them drop down from fourth to sixth in the table.
“We’re now in a position where we’re having to fight to get back into that top four,” he said. “We’ve got to pick up all the points we can from the teams that are sitting around us in the league.
“Even if we’d have won last night, this still would have been a game that we really want to get the points from. The determination will be there regardless but in the back of the minds of the boys will be that we really, really need to win this one.”
Smith feels that the short turnaround won’t affect the squad too much. “With Dewsbury having a big squad, Glenn (Morrison) has been able to rotate players and hopefully get a balance so the boys who play at the weekend will be as fresh as they can be. We’ll have a good five days recovery before the match.”
Smith believes the Summer Bash is a good way to promote the Championship and should give the derby games an extra bit of spice. “Hopefully the crowds will be a bit bigger than what you’d normally get and it’s a neutral venue so it should make the atmosphere a little more charged,” he said.