BATLEY BULLDOGS coach Matt Diskin is pleased to have a “selection headache” as players return from injury to bolster his squad.
He admitted that there was “not a lot of quality” from their win over Rochdale last week, but one of the positives to take away were the performances of the three players who came into the side.
The front row has been strengthened by the return of Tom Lillycrop, making only his third appearance since the start of 2018, and Hull FC loanee Lewis Bienek.
Diskin was pleased to see both put in a good shift in their first matches of the year.
“(Bienek) and Tom Lillycrop did okay for their first game in a long time,” he said. “We took the opportunity to play them this week and try and blow some of the cobwebs off going into Sheffield and Bradford, and they’ll both be better for it.
“But we’ve got loads of competition in that front row so it’s a real selection headache for me.”
The other player who came into the team last week was Lewis Galbraith, who slotted on to the left wing in place of Johnny Campbell and scored a brace of tries in the 18-12 win.
“I thought he took his tries really well. With Johnny Campbell missing with concussion, we bring somebody in and they do exceptionally well,” said Diskin.
“That’s the same reason why Louis Jouffret wasn’t playing this week; Danny Yates jumped in last week and I thought he did really well so he’s managed to keep his spot. We’ve got a good squad.
“We’ll go away because I thought there were some people who were under-par. We’ll look at the performances in a bit more detail and see if the selection is justified next week.”
One player in little danger of losing his place this week will be Wayne Reittie, who put in a man of the match performance with two try-saving tackles in the first half and the third try late in the game that effectively sealed the win.
“He did the big stuff really well,” Diskin said. “He made some crucial reads when we got our numbers wrong, and came up with some big defensive plays.
“Reittie does the big stuff really well; we’re working with him to make sure that he’s concentrating on the stuff that you don’t see, the stuff off the ball, and he’s tried his hardest to improve on that.”
It was a scrappy performance against Rochdale overall but Diskin admitted he would “take an ugly win over a pretty loss”, particularly when it is the first of the season.
“We didn’t even scratch the surface today. We were pretty poor in a few areas which we’ll look at in more detail,” he said.
“It’s easy to blame how poor we were but Rochdale fought really hard for each other as well. They fed off some of the opportunities we gave them and worked really hard, and if they keep working really hard for each other like that then they’ll eventually get the wins that they deserve.”
The Bulldogs face a quick turnaround this week as they return to action tonight (Friday, kick-off 7:45pm), facing Sheffield under the lights at the Olympic Legacy Park.
In contrast to Batley’s losing start, the Eagles picked up three wins out of three in the opening weeks of the season before seeing last week’s game against Widnes postponed due to the Vikings’ financial difficulties.