Bulldogs players return for tasty Rams derby

Bulldogs hooker Alistair Leak attempts to break free of a tackle from Featherstone's Brad Knowles last Sunday. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Bulldogs hooker Alistair Leak attempts to break free of a tackle from Featherstone's Brad Knowles last Sunday. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Batley Bulldogs could have several players back in the reckoning for the hectic Easter weekend which sees them entertain Dewsbury Rams in the traditional Good Friday derby (kick off 6.30pm) before travelling to Sheffield Eagles on Easter Monday (3pm).

Batley were without a number of key personnel as they suffered a 40-14 defeat at home to Featherstone Rovers last Sunday, although the final scoreline did not reflect the effort Matt Diskin’s under-strength side put in against the Championship high fliers.

Influential second row Dane Manning could be among the players back in contention as he has resumed full training following a nasty wound inflicted during an incident on a night out.

Diskin said: “The blessing is coming into Easter with two games, we should have plenty of people coming back.

“I’m very proud of the boys’ efforts who turned out (against Featherstone). Three or four lads shouldn’t have been pulling a shirt on and to do that makes me exceptionally proud of their efforts.”

On the prospect of Manning’s return, Diskin added: “His wound is healing nicely and he has been given the ok to resume full training so we will see how he is.

“You want to win every game you are involved in and no disrespect to the opposition in Dewsbury and Sheffield, who will both very dangerous and we will have to be on the button and it will be a test of the squad over a tough Easter week.

“Form from both sides goes out of the window. Dewsbury are playing a very tough brand of rugby under Neil Kelly and they’ve had some success. He turned them around last year and they have picked up a couple of good wins this season, so we know it is going to be a close game.

“Playing twice over Easter is tough on the full-time teams so put that to the part-time teams, when they have work. By the time we play Toulouse we will have played four times in 16 days, which is ridiculous but it is what it is and its pointless moaning about it. It’s something we have always done and it will be a test of the squad but it is something we enjoy and look forward to.”

Batley go into the Easter weekend lying ninth in the Championship table with two wins from five matches, while Dewsbury are fifth having won three and lost three of their six games, including a 36-0 defeat away to Leigh Centurions last Sunday.