Chammpionship Preview: Batley Bulldogs v Sheffield Eagles

Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear insists the “pressure is off” ahead of Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship match against Sheffield Eagles.

The Bulldogs have lost their last three league fixtures, suffering defeats against Dewsbury, Whitehaven and Barrow.

They are now in the bottom five, but Kear said: “Playing Sheffield, Featherstone, Halifax or Leigh would have been ideal this week because people’s expectations wouldn’t be that we’d come away successful, and what that means is that the pressure is off – and that’s what the players need.

“This week we can just look at the process of rugby league and concentrate on our own performance.”

He added: “The thing that pleased me most last week was the attitude. We were more spirited, more dogged and more committed, but we still came up short with our execution.

“There are just too many loose errors in our game, and it’s concerning because it’s the same errors that we’re making over and over again.”

Mark Applegarth (calf) remains a major doubt for the Bulldogs, but Josh Griffin returns and Keegan Hirst could feature after rejoining Batley on a month-long loan deal from Featherstone Rovers.

Sheffield coach Mark Aston is boosted by the possible availability of prop Eddie Battye, while Cory Aston could also be included.

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