Batley Bulldogs v Rochdale Hornets
Sunday 24th February 2019, 15:00pm
Championship - Round: 4
Stats over last 8 encounters
STORY SO FAR
Many Hornets fans will be looking at this match as the true season opener. After losing their round one fixture with Dewsbury Rams to the weather – Hornets were dealt a tough opening fortnight having faced Toronto Wolfpack and Toulouse Olypmique on consecutive weekends.
The two hotly tipped to finish top of the competition come September handed Hornets a couple of heavy defeats and they currently sit on zero points – the same as Championship stalwarts, Batley.
The Bulldogs are zero from three despite on paper having a more straightforward start to the season. Last week at Halifax the Bulldogs were by all accounts the better side but couldn’t convert possession and terriroty into points. Carl Forster’s men should be wary of a backlash at the Fox’s Biscuit Stadium.
Hornets are without a win in seven against Batley, with the last victory coming in March 2014 at the Crown Oil Arena. Hornets ran out 14-10 winners that day but have had a torrid time in the fixture since.
The Fox’s Biscuit Stadium is a true rugby league graveyard for the Rochdalians and the memories of a squandered 24 point lead in April 2017 still smart.
Hornets will be looking to put to rest a long standing bogey and have a very realistic chance of defeating a Batley side that will still be licking it’s wounds from last weeks two-point defeat at the Shay.
The French half-back has been a revelation since arriving at the Fox’s biscuit stadium partway through the 2018 season. The former Whitehaven and Toulouse Olympique man has been plying his trade in the French first division before heading to West Yorkshire.
The wiry half moves the sizable Bulldog’s squad around the park well and chips in with a few tries to boot. Hornets will have to be on their mettle to keep a lid on Louis.
The Scottish full-back is into his fourth season with the Bulldogs and has proved invaluable over the years. Batley’s own Mr. Consistent has been a thorn in Hornets side over the years and has an impressive try scoring record with 35 from 70 games.
A name familiar to all Hornets fans is that of the Suva Express. Joe Taira linked up with the Bulldogs after leaving Hornets at the end of last season and has had a mixed start to life at Mount Pleasant.
Deadly close to the line the former Cobras and Mayfield man is sure to put himself about from the off and should he keep a lid on his defensive enthusiasm he could be the difference in this contest.
Bulldog’s chief Matt Diskin was left to rue his sides missed chances last week at Halifax and speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post he insists his side must be ‘more clinical’.
Despite a bright second half performance Diskin is not underestimating Hornets.
“I think if we play as we did in the second half against any team in the league we will give them a run for their money.
“Rochdale haven’t picked up any points yet, but we have got to concentrate on what we can control as a group, not what is getting brought to us by Rochdale.”
On the opposite side of the coin it was Hornets first half performance that pleased head coach Carl Forster in Toulouse and is keen to take that to the Fox’s Biscuit Stadium on Sunday.
Speaking to hornetsrugbyleague.com, Foz said: “I thought our start to the game was brilliant, and we can take a lot of confidence from that,” said Carl.
“Just like any other game, we have identified their (Batley) threats and weakness’s and how we want to play and have put it into practice.
“I thought we had big improvements from the Toronto game , we are a new team and we just need to keep training hard and be better each week.”