Sheffield Eagles v Batley Bulldogs
Monday 2nd April 2018, 15:00pm
Championship - Round: 9
Stats over last 8 encounters
Under the spotlight in ‘The Eagle Eye’ are Batley Bulldogs, coached by former Bradford Bulls and Leeds Rhinos hooker Matt Diskin.
The Bulldogs came into the new season while licking their wounds following a Championship Shield semi-final defeat to the Eagles which ended their 2017 campaign.
Batley were favourites to progress to the final against Toulouse after beating Sheffield on all three occasions during the year but Mark Aston’s men came up with the goods despite a late fightback from the West Yorkshire club.
It’s fair to say Batley will be wanting to avenge that defeat against the Eagles, who struggled against Diskin’s side for the most part of last season.
Batley’s results have been a mixed bag this year with three wins from six matches. Mid-table may well be their calling this season but after beating Dewsbury on Good Friday, they will be wanting to finish the Easter period with a second victory.
Previous five results against Batley
- Batley Bulldogs 26-28 Sheffield Eagles – Sunday 24th September 2017
- Batley Bulldogs 34-18 Sheffield Eagles – Sunday 17th September 2017
- Batley Bulldogs 70-12 Sheffield Eagles – Sunday 18th June 2017
- Sheffield Eagles 10-54 Batley Bulldogs – Sunday 26th February 2017
- Sheffield Eagles 10-24 Batley Bulldogs – Friday 10th June 2016
Upcoming fixtures against Batley
- Sheffield Eagles v Batley Bulldogs at the Olympic Legacy Park – Monday 2nd April 2018
- Batley Bulldogs v Sheffield Eagles at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium – Sunday 17th June 2018.
Obviously games aren’t won on paper but the Bulldogs, despite not bringing in many players, have certainly got talent to challenge most teams in this division.
Fans favourite Johnny Campbell returned to the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium from Bradford Bulls but has since left the sport for personal reasons.
Michael Ward, Tommy Holland, Izaac Farrell and Tom Hemingway all put pen to paper on deals at the Bulldogs.
Ward, who joined from Oldham, was a big hit in the Championship during the Roughyeds’ two-year stint due to his strong running game which dismantled defences at times. The Irish international, alongside Holland, will join an already strong forward department, with Dane Manning, Joel Farrell, Adam Gledhill and Brad Day all mainstays in the Bulldogs pack.
Hemingway can cover both hooking and half-back positions so he provides decent utility for Diskin while Farrell is a livewire half who will be wanting consistent game-time as he looks to gain vital experience. The Bulldogs had two trialists on board for their pre-season schedule. Danny Sowerby and Keenan Tomlinson were brought in by Diskin and the club took the latter on a contract till the end of the season. Lewis Galbraith switched from Rochdale to the Bulldogs in January as he departed the Crown Oil Arena due to the Hornets’ financial troubles.
Izaac Farrell – Huddersfield Giants (loan)
Tom Hemingway – Dewsbury Rams
Tommy Holland – Whitehaven
Michael Ward – Oldham
Keenan Tomlinson – Trialist
Lewis Galbraith - Rochdale
Sam Smeaton – The consistent centre had a great year at Sheffield in 2015 before moving to Halifax the following year. Despite only scoring seven tries, Smeaton was an integral part of the squad which finished in the top four. Accomplished in defence while striking up a partnership with winger Rob Worrincy, Smeaton proved to be a good pickup by Mark Aston.
Jason Crookes – Crookes made seven appearances during a loan stint in 2011 from Bradford Bulls. The centre/back-rower joined with fellow Bull Vinny Finigan, who signed a permanent deal with Sheffield while Crookes moved across Yorkshire to stay in Super League with Hull FC. Crookes scored four tries in his seven games for Sheffield.
Pat Walker – Walker had the big challenge of filling Simon Brown’s boots for the 2013 season as the former Dewsbury half-back was brought in as a replacement for the York-bound playmaker. It’s fair to say he completed his task. Alongside current teammate Dom Brambani, Walker helped Sheffield to a second consecutive Grand Final victory. Scoring twice in the semi-final against Halifax, Walker played a big part in the following game as he assisted Scott Turner’s try with a pinpoint kick to the corner. The half-back/loose forward stayed with the Eagles till the end of 2015, scoring 20 tries and kicking 70 goals in 85 games.
Dom Brambani – Still a massive favourite with the Eagles fans, Brambani had two stints with the Eagles in 2007-08 and 2012-15. The latter being the most memorable for the scrum-half as he was a fixture in the Sheffield side which brought success to the city thanks to two Grand Final wins. 176 games, 28 tries and 368 goals, Brambani has a superb record in an Eagles shirt and is certainly one of the greats in recent times.
Tom Lillycrop – Brought in during the 2014 season after falling out of favour at Dewsbury, Lillycrop made 24 appearances for the Eagles before moving to Batley. He helped Sheffield to a playoff semi-final and his straight running style saw him win plaudits during his short time at the club.
James Davey – Davey’s debut season saw him win a Grand Final with the Eagles against former loan club Featherstone Rovers. His pace saw him cause problems for many defences during his four seasons at Sheffield. He played 93 games in Red and Gold, scoring 14 tries.
Alex Rowe – Playing for five years in a Sheffield shirt, Rowe was a powerful player to handle and his offload game also proved dangerous. The London-born prop has been a fixture in the Bulldogs team since leaving the Eagles at the end of the 2012 season.