Batley Bulldogs and London Broncos start the weekend in the top four and the latter will stay in for the duration of the regular season, no matter how the results turn out. The Broncos sealed second spot in the Kingstone Press Championship despite being defeated by Sheffield Eagles last weekend. Batley, however, still have quite a bit of work to do. They’re currently one point above Bradford and Featherstone with two games to go. Tense times to say the least.

Last Time Out 

Batley Bulldogs were dominated by fellow West Yorkshire side Featherstone Rovers. The Rovers needed a win to keep their top four hopes alive and they did just that with a 34-6 win at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium. John Kear’s side failed to turn up, and their only try of the game arrived in the latter stages thanks to Chris Ulugia. The visitors had a 10-0 lead at the break courtesy of a try from Andy Bostock and two penalty goals from the boot of Kyle Briggs. Four tries in the space of 11 minutes for Jon Sharp’s men sealed an important victory ahead of their next big match, which comes against third-placed Halifax. Briggs, Ian Hardman, Ashton Golding and Michael Channing all touched down prior to Ulugia’s consolation effort.

London Broncos lost 32-14 to Sheffield Eagles at Trailfinders Sports Ground. The Broncos opened the scoring through Rhys Williams but the game was soon flipped on its head as Matt James, Matty Fozard and Stan Robin all crossed for the Eagles before the interval. Quentin Laulu-Togagae and Menzie Yere registered a try each in the second half before Israel Eliab clawed four points back for the capital side. Sheffield’s Duane Straugheir and London’s Andy Ackers exchanged tries in the final quarter as the game petered out.

Key Battle 

After landing in the UK last week, Jamie Soward is set for his second London Broncos debut of his career. The signing of the half-back has come at a good time for the capital club, who will now be seen as a force to be reckoned with as the former Origin star links up with Api Pewhairangi. Barring their last match, Batley have performed well on home turf this season and they will need to bounce back at the first time of asking against London. Cain Southernwood and Dom Brambani have struck up a partnership that has troubled Championship clubs during 2016. Now they will need to pull the rabbit out of the hat once again to get their team over the line in this one.

Prediction 

In what is their biggest game since the ‘relegation match’ against Doncaster in 2014, Batley’s players will be fired up to make amends for their poor showing last weekend. London know they’re safe in the top two and that they’ll have four home matches in the Qualifiers. However, this game is important for their prospects because if Soward hits the ground running then who knows what might happen over the next nine weeks? –London by 8