Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Saturday's Coming: Batley

Batley Bulldogs coach Matt Diskin probably didn’t feel much like celebrating the May Bank Holiday. Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post last weekend he said: “We have got a big month coming up. If we are going to be where we want to be at the end of the year we have to be really switched on.”

By Sunday evening, the Bulldogs had completed a peculiar heavy woollen double as - like their neighbours at Dewsbury - they fell at the death to a late, late try, going down 20-18 at Barrow. And, like the Rams, they’d led the game three times only to switch off with 90 seconds remaining.

‘Dogs assistant Danny Maun also sees may as a month full of ‘huge’ games. Speaking ahead of the Barrow game, he said in the Batley News: “The next four games are huge in our season as we play Barrow, then Rochdale twice and the Summer Bash against Dewsbury Rams.” He went on to say: “… lapses in concentration cost us and you can’t do that against the better teams.” Or Barrow, it seems.

Currently sitting 7th, it’s probably fair to say that inconsistency is a key theme at Mount Pleasant this far. Having taken Toronto close and produced a miracle win over Toulouse, they then shipped 50 at Featherstone (having conceded 40 at home to them back in March) - and then clocked off early at Craven Park.

Batley had half-back Patch Walker back from… er… a back injury at Barrow and he weighed in with a try and  three conversions. His half-back partner Dominic Brambani was also pivotal, with a couple of try assists. But our one to watch is is Lewis Galbraith. Insert your own anecdote here….

Elsewhere, prop James Brown is facing at least another month on the sidelines with a broken thumb, while Diskin recalled Alex Bretherton and Joe Chandler from dual reg. stints at Hunslet for last week’s defeat.

Hornets come into Saturday’s game with a new spring in the soul. The celebrations after last week’s last gasp win at Dewsbury a release of emotions after a brutal run of injuries and a real crisis of confidence.

There’s no denying that the lads given their chance at Dewsbury grabbed it with both hands and played with a visibly refreshed vigour - proof, if any were needed, that desire and attitude take you a long way in this game (indeed, after the game Rams coach Neil Kelly came out and accused some of his players of not trying - a brutally harsh accusation).

New boy Tyler Whittaker put down a real marker with an influential 16-point performance, and debutant Jonah Cunningham looked tidy, tight and took us forward. While it would be unfair to single any one player out for special praise, Seta Tala put in a real ‘coming of age’ performance - tenacious on defence and all but unplayable with ball in hand. Indeed, there’s no finer sight in sport than a Fijian in a Rochdale Hornets shirt tearing a Yorkshire side a new bumhole.

On the squad front, Alan Kilshaw has added a other young gun to the Hornets pack this week, signing Halifax utility forward Jordan Syme on loan. We’re looking forward to seeing him get stuck in.

See you Saturday - and bring a friend.