Batley Bulldogs will embark on an exciting adventure when the qualifying middle eights stage begins in 10 days’ time.
The Bulldogs have earned plaudits from throughout rugby league after shocking big spending Bradford Bulls and Halifax to finish third in the Kingstone Press Championship.
Batley can now look forward to mouthwatering trips to Hull KR and Leeds Rhinos, while welcoming Salford Red Devils and Huddersfield Giants to Fox’s Biscuits Stadium.
Bulldogs coach John Kear praised his side following last Sunday’s 62-24 victory over Swinton, which clinched third spot.
Kear said: “It is a magnificent achievement but we are excited with what’s left.
“We have got to be realistic and in Leeds, Huddersfield, Salford and Hull KR we face four cracking teams but we are really looking forward to it.
“We have got three or four Leeds fans in the dressing room, who usually pay through the turnstiles and cheer from the South Stand. We’ll now have to direct them to the players’ entrance but it will be brilliant.”
Bulldogs chairman Kevin Nicholas is also relishing the prospect of seeing his side lock horns with the reigning Super League champions on Friday September 9 in what will be Batley’s first trip to Headingley in many years.
Mr Nicholas said: “Somebody said we had played Leeds at home in 1990 when the floodlights were switched on.
“I have been watching Batley since 1969 and I don’t think we have played at Headingley too often in all that time.
“It is a freak scenario and I don’t think you will see the Rhinos this low in the league again.”
Batley open their middle eights campaign away to Hull Kingston Rovers on Sunday August 7.