Batley Bulldogs’ last-16 Challenge Cup tie away at Hull KR ‘doesn’t get much tougher’ - Craig Lingard
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The Bulldogs secured their place in the sixth round draw after a comprehensive 34-16 victory over Keighley Cougars at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium on Sunday, while Rovers have won their previous five games - including a stunning triumph at home to world champions St Helens - which has propelled them to third position in the top tier.
“It doesn’t get much tougher with the way that Hull KR are playing,” Lingard revealed. “It is certainly a difficult tie for us. Ideally, for the club, we would have liked it at Batley but that is not to be.”
He added: “With the way that Hull KR are playing now and the support they have got it should be a decent financial day for the club. We could have had worse. We could have had Catalans away or London away which would have been a disaster I think for the club financially. So all things considered, it is a pretty decent draw for us.”
Praising Hull KR’s way of working as a club, Lingard said:
“I think what they’ve done with the recruitment or retention model is really paying dividends for them. They have got six or eight really senior, experienced players and then around them they have blooded some young players who developed over the last three or four years.
“Those young players are starting to mature themselves and have got the potential to build the squad around them for the next four, five, six seasons if they wish to do that.
“There are also some players who may have gone under the radar who are not necessarily marquee players that other clubs would look to sign and now they’ve all developed together and gelled together and it looks like a really good formula that’s paying off for them.”
With no game this weekend due to the international break, Lingard was asked to reflect on his side’s start to the 2023 season.
“I think we are getting there. We have won six out of the last seven games after a bit of a stuttering start, which we were expecting with the changes of personnel in key positions. It has taken a bit of time for people to gel together and get that winning formula.
“But we are showing that we are learning to play together as a team and that we’re coping with a few injuries and suspensions. We are showing that we can cope with adversity when important players are missing.
“The guys that are stepping in are showing that competition is pretty fierce and if they want to keep that shirt then they have got to play well.
“I am pretty pleased with where we are currently. The next four to five league games will be key to seeing where we are. If we get another three victories I think we’ll be sitting okay in that top six, which is what we are looking for.”