Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Can York City Knights end bad run against Batley Bulldogs at Mount Pleasant
11:45am Saturday 16th February 2013 in Sport
BATLEY Bulldogs coach John Kear says historical results will count for nothing when York City Knights visit the LoveRugbyLeague.com Stadium tomorrow (2pm).
The Knights, since re-forming in 2003, have never taken anything from their six previous trips to the notoriously sloping Mount Pleasant ground, shipping in a total of 100 points in their last two visits.
But former Challenge Cup-winning boss Kear, whose side are aming to get back to winning ways following defeat at champions Sheffield last week, does not expect the 2013 York team to have any hang-ups about the past.
“We haven’t won at Sheffield for a long time either, so I hope York’s record here does continue,” said Kear, now in his second season in the Kingstone Press Championship.
“But I’m not into all these historical results. It’s about 17 guys against 17 other guys, and their preparation and planning and ability pitted against the others. Teams and circumstances change.”
York, for their part, are likely to field at most only five players – Jack Lee, Adam Sullivan, Jack Aldous, Ed Smith and Kriss Brining – who were in the patched-up team brushed aside 50-0 at the end of last season. Batley, too, will have half a dozen different faces, including second-row John Davies, who played for York in that corresponding fixture last August.
Said Kear of the second-row: “He’s been tremendous. I thought he was really good at York in a struggling team, and he’s settled in very well with us. He’s certainly added something.”
Kear also said early games this season were about “evolving as a group”.
“We have a number of new players and we’re really still growing and getting to know each other. I think that will be the case for the first quarter of the season. But while we’re doing that, you want to pick up results.”
Kear said he would rotate his squad for the first quarter of term – “to ensure everybody gets an opportunity” – which could see centre Danny Maun return from injury, likewise hooker George Flanagan, who was rested last week.
Big prop Alex Walmsley, who signed for St Helens last year but stayed with Batley on dual-reg, was in Saints’ squad last night so is unavailable for the Bulldogs, but Welsh international Dan Fleming, on dual-reg from Castleford, is available. Batley have an official link-up with Huddersfield but these two signings were agreed last year so bypass new rules on dual-registering players only from a partnership club.
Ex-Knight Ryan Esders is taking time away from the game so is not involved tomorrow.
Bulldogs in focus
Last year: fifth.
Current league position: fourth.
Coach: John Kear.
Prop Alex Walmsley – a terrifying sight when running down the Mount Pleasant slope – has gone to St Helens on dual-reg (and was in the Saints squad last night) but Alex Rowe came in from Sheffield to boost a strong pack, which was also augmented by York favourite John Davies. Winger Alex Brown went to Hull KR and full-back Ian Preece retired, but wily old coach John Kear bolstered his backs, not least with centre powerhouse Ayden Faal from Dewsbury. Crowd favourite George Flanagan also returned from the Rams. Scrum-half Gareth Moore is out till May but Tom Hemingway is an able deputy.
Squad for tomorrow: from Miles Greenwood, Gareth Potts, Jason Walton, Alex Bretherton, Danny Maun, Greg Johnson, Ben Black, Tom Hemingway, Byron Smith, Paul Mennell, Alex Rowe, Mark Applegarth, John Davies, Ash Lindsay, Danny Whitmore, Craig Potter, Liam Walmsley, Dan Fleming, George Flanagan.
One to watch: full-back Miles Greenwood, back in the second tier after a year with Oldham, boasts great pace.
Partnership club: Huddersfield Giants.
Season prediction: maybe their best chance of silverware comes in the Northern Rail Cup but Kear wants to be there or thereabouts in the league too.
Ground: LoveRugbyLeague.com Stadium (Mount Pleasant).
Miles from York: 34. Phone 07763 121732 for supporters’ bus bookings.
Nearest train station: Batley (change at Leeds) 0.8 miles, Dewsbury (direct from York) 1.8 miles. Visit www.tpexpress.co.uk for train times and fares.