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Saturday, 04 July 2015

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Batley boss Kear wary of Barrow Raiders backlash

BATLEY Bulldogs boss John Kear is wary of a Barrow Raiders backlash at Craven Park tonight.

The West Yorkshire outfit come to Furness with two big home wins and a narrow defeat to reigning champions Sheffield under their belts thus far this season.

But, despite facing a Raiders side with three defeats from three to their name, Kear is expecting their hosts to be far from hospitable (7.30pm kick-off).

“It’s going to be a long drive on a Thursday night!” he said.

“It’s a challenge isn’t it? Even from when I played a long, long time ago, you always knew that when you went up to Cumbria – and Barrow had Eddie Szymala in those days – you were in for a tough, physical encounter.

“That’s what we’re expecting this time. We’re especially expecting a backlash from their last game against Featherstone, so there is that aspect and also the logistics of the travel, so we know it going to be very tough.

“But we are also fully aware that we’re not a bad team as well.

“I look more at us than at the opposition, although you do obviously have a look at the opposition.

“I think it is more about our development and our progression, but you’ve got to look at the context of the game and that context is that Barrow have had three defeats and a heavy one against Featherstone.

“I don’t think you could read anything into the Doncaster game, because it was just a mudbath, and the first game they may just have been a little cold out of the blocks.

“I think Barrow are finding their feet at this level and we’ve to be aware of that.”

Kear will have experienced centre Danny Maun – who featured for the Bulldogs the last time they took on Raiders in front of the TV cameras in the 2008 Northern Rail Cup – back in contention for a place in the squad tonight.

However, he will not be using Batley’s dual-registration agreement with Huddersfield, which has see forwards Alex Walmsley and Dan Fleming feature individually so far this year.

Instead, Kear will turn to the likes of last weekend’s double try-scorers Miles Greenwood and George Flanagan and half-back pairing Ben Black and Tom Hemingway, to try and turn the game his way.

“We’ve got Danny Maun available, which we are really pleased about, and all the players who played against York,” the former England coach said. “There are one or two with bumps and bruises, but we’re hoping they will be fit.

“If they’re not, then they will be left out, because we have a philosophy that we have a decent squad and if anyone is carrying bumps and bruises, then they don’t play.

“That would be why there might be one or two changes, but I was pretty pleased with what they did at the weekend.

“I’m not bringing in anybody from Huddersfield, because we’ve only got a very short turnaround and I like players to train with us pretty consistently, so they know us and they know what we are about, rather than just dropping them in for one game.

“I don’t think that’s the way to us it at all, so there will be nobody coming in from Huddersfield.”

Batley’s 42-4 win over York at the weekend followed a 13-6 loss to Sheffield and the opening day 42-10 victory over Keighley.

It was the York display which most impressed Kear and he is looking to build on that tonight.

“I think the best performance of the season up to now was the most recent one against York,” he added.

“The first game, we played really well with ball in hand; the second game we defended well but didn’t do so well with ball in hand; but we combined the two against York – we defended very well and we played some good rugby.

“That was pleasing to see and it shows that we are improving week-on-week, which is what we’re trying to do at this stage of the season.”

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