Summer Bash preview: Halifax Panthers v Batley Bulldogs
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Thousands of fans from the Championship will be descending on the LNER Community Stadium in York for this season’s Summer Bash, which, traditionally, tries to match teams up against their local rivals.
Supporters of Batley, since the extra special set of fixtures were introduced in 2015, have always been treated to an additional ‘derby day’ with Dewsbury Rams, with both sides gaining three wins apiece across their six games.
However, following the Rams’ relegation to League 1 at the end of the 2022 season, the Bulldogs will now be facing in-form Halifax Panthers on Sunday, May 28, kick off 4pm.
Both sides were involved in Challenge Cup action last Friday evening, with the Bulldogs suffering a brave 50-0 defeat at Hull KR, while the Panthers produced a fantastic and determined performance of their own in the 26-6 loss at the hands of world champions St Helens at The Shay.
Fax’s impressive display, however, has come at a cost, with playmaker Joe Keyes set for a spell on the sidelines having come off injured in the first half.
Craig Lingard’s men have won five of their last six Championship outings, including their previous three, all against teams currently in the top seven - Bradford Bulls, Widnes Vikings and, more recently, Toulouse.
However, they were defeated at The Shay in March, 20-16, despite taking an 8-16 lead into half-time.
Dewsbury had the better record against Batley in Summer Bash games held at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road between 2015 and 2019, winning three to the Bulldogs’ two. But Batley produced their biggest win the Bash last year at Headingley, coming out 60-6 victors over their local neighbours.
Halifax are looking for their fourth straight win in the Bash following a win over Featherstone Rovers, 24-18, in 2018, before two consecutive victories over the Bulls, 21-14 in 2019 and 22-6 in 2022.
Panthers head coach, Simon Grix, said ahead of the game: “For the fans it is more of an occasion and an opportunity to all lump together and go and visit somewhere a bit different.
“It’s a new experience having been at Blackpool and then Leeds last year. But it is just another game to be quite honest.”