Holders hunt derby victory

Defending Northern Rail Cup champions Batley Bulldogs are hoping they can continue their recent run of good form by defeating local rivals Dewsbury Rams when the two sides clash in a Northern Rail Cup quarter-final this weekend (Sunday April 10, 3.00pm)

The two sides met in the opening round of Co-operative Championship action earlier this season when the Bulldogs won 28-0 and Batley captain Paul Handforth, who had the luxury of lifting the Northern Rail Cup last season, is hoping they can repeat that performance and remain on course to defend the title.

“I think us winning the Cup last year really opened the eyes of everyone involved in the sport,” said Handforth. “It showed them that we’re not just there to make up the numbers. One of our goals last season was to win the Northern Rail Cup and some people might raise an eyebrow to that, but we knew what we we’re capable of and we we’re confident in our ability.

“We’ve set ourselves similar goals this season as we want to build on that success. Winning the trophy was fantastic but now we want to try and retain it because not very many clubs ever manage to do that.

“We know it won’t be easy because the competition is getting tougher every year and any one of the eight clubs still involved could easily go on to win the competition, but we’re confident that we can be that side and ensure that it’s not going to be another 86 years before success comes back to Batley.”

Handforth was among the scorers when the sides met in their Championship clash and he knows just how important victory in the Heavy Woollen derby is for everyone involved with the club.

“We had a good result over them,” he said. “But it was the first game of the season and it will be completely different this time around. They had a good win over Hunslet during the week and we will be travelling to their ground and so we know they will be a completely different outfit.

“They’re a very physical side and with a home crowd they will be extra determined to beat us and get the bragging rights.

“It’s a massive game for us against them. A lot of our players are local lads and the game against Dewsbury is often the biggest game of the season and it’s a game the fans love. If we have a great season but lose to Dewsbury then the fans aren’t happy because they lose the local bragging rights so we’ll be aiming to be at our best at the weekend.”

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