Sheffield Eagles v Batley Bulldogs preview

Batley travel to Doncaster at the weekend to face Sheffield Eagles at Keepmoat Stadium. The Bulldogs lost their last match and are currently one place below the Eagles in the Championship table after three games.

Sheffield Eagles had a very gritty victory over Whitehaven last weekend, and coach Mark Aston has labelled the Recreation Ground’s pitch as “probably the worst I’ve ever seen.”

“We did really, really well,” he said. “It was a leveller and we couldn’t play the football that we like to play but what I did like was that we toughed it out and the attitude and resilience of the group pulled us though.”

Focusing on the Eagles’ next opposition, Aston said: “Batley have started the season pretty well. There are four players there who played for Sheffield Eagles and John Kear coached here as well so there’s a bit of spice in there.”

“They are playing with confidence and they work hard for each other and look like they’re enjoying themselves, which is the be-all and end-all as far as I’m concerned.

Injury concerns for Sheffield come in the shape of an ankle problem for Jon Molloy, a virus for Tony Tonks, and a thumb injury for Michael Knowles. 

Batley lost out to Halifax last weekend but coach John Kear has paid tribute to his players for their fight.

“Our players gave it 100 percent and it was a very physical energy-draining game” said Kear.

With Sheffield coming over the horizon, he added: “People are talking about Featherstone and Halifax for the fourth spot but I’ve always had a slight fancy for Sheffield. They’ve made some really shrewd recruitments and are playing this year on a pitch which suits them.”

James Craven will sit out of the team for a while as he’s damaged his medial collateral knee ligament. Other absentees for Batley this week include Alex Bretherton (hand injury) and Luke Blake (shoulder).

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