Bulldogs aiming to reach Shield final

Bulldogs forward Alex Rowe charges at the heart of the Sheffield Eagles defence during last weeks Championship Shield clash. Picture: Paul Butterfield.
Bulldogs forward Alex Rowe charges at the heart of the Sheffield Eagles defence during last weeks Championship Shield clash. Picture: Paul Butterfield.

BATLEY Bulldogs will aim to reach the Kingstone Press Championship Shield final on Sunday when they welcome Sheffield Eagles to Fox’s Biscuits Stadium for the second time in eight days.

Batley gained a psychological boost over the Eagles when they secured a 34-18 victory in the final group game last Sunday and the Bulldogs know a repeat performance will put them within 80 minutes of Shield glory.

Batley will know their potential final opponents prior to kick off on Sunday as Toulouse Olympique meet Dewsbury Rams in the first semi-final on Saturday afternoon.

Victory for Toulouse would see the winners of Batley and Sheffield facing a trip to France next weekend and that could mean a fourth trip of the season for the Bulldogs.

Should Dewsbury pull off a shock win, it could set up a potential Heavy Woollen derby Shield final, with the winners of Batley and Sheffield at home.

Batley coach Matt Diskin is aiming to end the season on a high, despite seeing the side miss out on the Middle Eights qualification when they finished the regular season sixth.

Diskin said: “The second half of the season has been good, but we are a little disappointed as a group because we had aspirations of the top four.

“We fell short of that, but in one sense – when you look at our budget and money spent – we’ve finished exactly where we should have.

“That’s no comfort, but the next best thing is to have a crack at the Shield competition.”

Batley were without a number of key players for last week’s win over Sheffield and will be missing at least three for Sunday’s semi-final with prop Tom Lillycrop and James Brown already out for the season and Brad Day suffering a torn hamstring.

Cain Southernwood has an elbow complaint but Diskin will be hoping half-back pairing Patch Walker and Dominic Brambani have recovered from knee injuries to feature.

With a patched up side on duty, Diskin was pleased with his side’s display, adding: “It was a scrappy game, very whistle happy, but it was good to get a positive result building into the semi-final.

“It was nice to win, it is always good to win but it will be a totally different scenario this week. That result doesn’t mean anything, we have got to get the result on Sunday.”