After being crowned Championship League Leaders for 2018 with three regular season games remaining, Round 21 of the Betfred Championship sees Toronto Wolfpack take on Batley Bulldogs at Lamport Stadium. This will be the first of three games, which will serve as vital preparation for the Super 8’s Qualifiers.
With the club’s first goal already achieved, the focus now turns to the Wolfpack’s ultimate aim of gaining promotion to Super League. Even though Toronto are proven as the most consistent team in the Betfred Championship, the pressure to ramp up the intensity of their performances is firmly on, with the opportunity to play Super League opposition just around the corner.
Wolfpack fans are encouraged to wear their Rugby club or country colours on with pride on game day as the Pack host a first annual Rugby Heritage Game, in partnership The Rugby Alliance.
Batley come to Canada on the back of seven consecutive defeats and are already confirmed as participants in the Championship Shield play off competition but will certainly provide the Wolfpack with the lift in intensity they need at this stage of the season.
Despite results not going their way in recent weeks, the Bulldogs are a fiercely competitive side that really test the best teams in the second division.
Toronto were pushed all the way in the reverse fixture at Mount Pleasant, just getting home 26-18 in a tough battle in West Yorkshire and, with the quality Batley possess, will have a difficult task on their hands this week to complete the regular season double over the Bulldogs.
Batley are steered around the park superbly by Patch Walker and Alistair Leak as part of a high quality spine, who play off the back of the dominant go forward of a forward pack that can trouble any side.
Matt Diskin’s men come into the game arguably as a more dangerous team than any other currently. Their recent form has raised a few eyebrows, but the Bulldogs now have a level of unrivalled desperation to get back in the winners circle to build some momentum for the end of the season.
Wolfpack Head Coach Paul Rowley was under no illusions that this week would be a tough contest, with the expectation to keep winning of high importance going into the Super 8s. He said:
“We’ve had some games that haven’t been as intense as we’ll get in the Middle 8s so replicating the level we’ll have to play at is very difficult, but it’ll be tough this week.”
“Results are still important to us. At the end of the day we’re a team that pride ourselves on being winners and we want to keep winning.”
Toronto received a timely injury boost last week against Sheffield, with Ashton Sims and Adam Higson making successful returns from injury and both are likely to feature against Batley.
However, Rowley did hint at the possibility of a few more changes this week, in a conscious effort to try and freshen the squad up at this vital part of the year. He explained:
“We haven’t got a big enough squad to make too many changes but we’ll make a few rotations this week. Liam Kay will get a rest and Matty Russell will come in, as will Cory Paterson.”
“We’ll make sure we use our whole squad in these next few weeks and see where we’re at come the last game but our priority is being healthy.”
19 Man Squad:
3 Greg Worthington
7 Ryan Brierley
8 Jack Buchanan
9 Rob Beswick
10 Ashton Sims
11 Andrew Dixon
14 Andrew Ackers
15 Adam Sidlow
17 Blake Wallace
19 Adam Higson
21 Olsi Krasniqi
22 Richard Whiting
23 Nick Rawsthorne
24 Cory Paterson
28 Sam Hopkins
30 Matthew Russell
31 Gareth O’Brien
32 Darcy Lussick
33 Chase Stanley