DEWSBURY Rams will be aiming to maintain their excellent early season form, and earn the derby bragging rights, as they make the short trip tonight (Friday) for the eagerly anticpiated Co-operative Championship clash with Batley Bulldogs (kick-off 7.30pm).
Dewsbury won the Boxing Day Challenge match 28-6 but coach Warren Jowitt admits that will count for nothing when the sides clash in front of the Premier Sports cameras.
Jowitt said: “This is a massive game for both teams. Batley and Dewsbury games are big derbies and the fans love these kind of matches.
“There is always a good crowd, Boxing Day proved that when there were almost 3,000 there, and there will be another big crowd (tonight) for what will be an entertaining game.”
Dewsbury produced a superb effort to push champions Featherstone close last Sunday and they currently lie above Batley in the Championship table.
Jowitt added: “Batley may have lost to Swinton but they are still in form. Although we beat them on Boxing Day, that means nothing and you will get a completely different game.
“Although the fans like the derby bragging rights from Boxing Day, from a coach’s point of view it isn’t good as it comes too early in pre-season.”
Dewsbury haven’t won at Mount Pleasant for four years. Then they overcame the Bulldogs 13-4 in front of the television cameras in one of Jowitt’s first games in charge.
Tonight the Rams will be without influential second row Dwayne Barker after he suffered medial ligament damage in the defeat to Featherstone, which will rule him out for between two and four weeks.
Luke Blake was also having a scan on a knee injury and he is also rated doubtful.
The game could be won and lost in the front row and in Steve Crossley and Ben Jones, Dewsbury have two of the in-form props in the division.
Jowitt praised the pair’s display against Featherstone, adding: “Steve Crossley gave a massive effort and there is not another prop in the country who could play for 70 minutes in such a high intensity game.
“Ben Jones managed 63 minutes and the time they are putting in is unbelievable but they are both happy to do it and have said they would play the full 80 minutes if needed.”
Ben Bolger also impressed against Featherstone on his return to the Rams, while hooker George Flanagan is another forward bang in form, having made big impacts from the bench in recent games.
Flanagan could be in line for a return against his former club, which, if selected, would add further spice to the game.
Speaking of the 24-12 defeat to Featherstone, Jowitt commented: “There were two evenly matched games and the neutrals in the crowd saw a very entertaining game.
“We completed 80 per cent of our sets and both sides had a number of line breaks. The difference was they got over the line four times and scored four tries but we got over four times and only scored twice.”
P W D L F A Pt
Halifax 3 3 0 0 118 54 9
Featherstone 3 3 0 0 82 40 9
Keighley 3 2 0 1 70 36 7
Dewsbury 3 2 0 1 76 50 7
Sheffield 3 2 0 1 114 94 6
Batley 3 1 0 2 50 54 5
Leigh 3 1 0 2 70 66 4
Swinton 3 1 0 2 64 108 3
York 3 0 0 3 34 90 1
Hunslet 3 0 0 3 46 132 0