Craig Lingard: Batley Bulldogs' 'play-off journey' starts at Keighley Cougars
and live on Freeview channel 276
Following on from their spirited Wembley exploits, in which they were inches away from forcing golden point extra time in the 12-10 1895 Cup final defeat against Halifax Panthers, the Bulldogs return to Championship action away at Keighley Cougars this Sunday, August 20 (kick off 3pm).
But with only one set of two points in five games in all competitions to show for their recent efforts, Lingard is aiming to return to winning ways against second-bottom Keighley, who themselves have lost their last five league games.
“Everybody in our division is a dangerous opponent,” the head coach said. “There are always shock results, you look at Whitehaven beating Sheffield last week, and Swinton beating Toulouse not so long back. When you are fighting for your life at the bottom end of the table like Keighley are then they are going to be dangerous because they are going to be scrapping for everything.
“Let’s not forget we’ve lost our last three league games as well, so it is a game of teams that aren’t in a great deal of form. We need to get our focus back on the league. If we can cement our position in the top four for another week then it’s another week less that the other teams have got to catch us up.
“The more victories we can get between now and the end of the season means hopefully we can finish in the top four and have a potential home tie.”
He added: “There are six league games and hopefully the play-offs after that. We played in the Grand Final last year and now the 1895 Cup final. It has just whetted the appetite for us to do as well this year and get to the final again. Our players have got an appetite now for playing in finals and playing play-off football and that’s certainly what we want to do come the end of the season but that journey starts again this Sunday at Keighley.
“The journey down to Wembley was nice but that’s put to bed now, it’s done and dusted. That journey is over. Now we need to finish our journey of getting to the play-offs and doing as well as we can in that.”
It will be a big weekend for Lingard who will be hoping for a Castleford Tigers victory in their crucial battle-at-the-bottom-of-Super-League contest away at fellow strugglers Wakefield in Danny Ward’s first game in charge as head coach.
Cas’ assistant coach Lingard said: “We talk about Keighley being dangerous, hopefully we’re going to be dangerous because we’re scrapping for our lives.
“It’s a slightly different scenario with Batley at the top end of the Championship, fighting for a play-off spot and Castleford at the bottom of Super League fighting for survival.
“Two very different fights going on at this moment in time but two that I am looking forward to.
“It’s absolutely huge (the Wakefield game). It won’t decide who stays up and who goes down but it will go a long way to decide who might. Whoever wins is going to be in pole position to stay up.”