DEWSBURY Rams are forced to make changes for their big Northern Rail Cup quarter-final against holders Batley Bulldogs at Tetley’s Stadium on Sunday (3pm) with stand-off Pat Walker set to return and big winger Andy Smith likely to make his debut.
The game is particularly appealing. Apart from intense local pride, there has been a substantial increase in prize money for teams in the last four and this is clearly very important for both clubs.
Rams’ chairman Mark Sawyer stressed: “The competition now has an extra edge because, apart from the prestige and TV exposure, it’s worth considerably more money for us to make progress.
“We’re hoping for an attendance of between 1,500 and 2,000 for a shared gate on Sunday. If we get that and win, it will be a great financial boost for the club, especially as our Carnegie Challenge Cup tie at home to Swinton is all pay and there is the prospect of meeting a Super League club in the next round if we get through.
“The adjustment in the Northern Rail prize structure means far more financially this year. We want to win the competition because it will really boost our finances.
“We haven’t had very good attendances so far but the two cup games should brighten things considerably and if we win, they will give us a major financial boost.”
The Rams have been hit by injuries. Consistent prop Anthony England had a scan on Wednesday and was due an operation today to assess the damage to a knee injury received at Hunslet last Thursday. Loose forward Josh Tonks has broken two bones in a hand and both will be out for up to four weeks.
Another forward, Adam Hayes, who was working his way back to full fitness with the reserves after all his knee problems last year, has suffered a cartilage injury and will need an operation.
In addition loan second row man Ben Bolger, who filled in at centre last Thursday and has made four appearances in all, has been recalled by his Super League club Harlequins.
Dewsbury coach Warren Jowitt said: “Ben has done a great job for us and the injuries are an additional blow but we just have to get on with it. I pushed for a big squad this season because I knew from experience the damage injuries could cause so at least we have some cover.”
Jowitt added that new signing Smith, who scored two tries for the reserves in the 50-16 win over Oldham last Friday, will come into the reckoning and Pat Walker is likely to start at stand-off.
Walker, who broke a wrist in the opening game of the season at Toulouse, played the full 80 minutes for the reserves to prove his fitness as Jowitt’s request for a second team at the club again proved it’s value.
The reserves went close to maintaining their fine start as they were edged out 36-28 at home by Leigh on Wednesday evening after three straight wins. Jowitt observed: “It’s good to see both teams doing well. Sometimes you have a good second team and the first team are struggling, then it’s the other way round. But for both to be going well is encouraging and some of the reserves can step up if we have more problems.”
Regarding Sunday’s game Jowitt said: “It will be a keen game because both teams are in form, but I said that the last time we played Batley and look what happened. I’ll play this one by ear.”
The coach was referring to the league game at Batley which the Rams lost 28-0 after a very flat performance. Things look set to change this time in what should be a cracking cup tie.