As well as the Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity game today there was action between Championship and League One rivals Batley Bulldogs and Dewsbury Rams.
Batley shocked the Championship and wider rugby league community when they went all the way to the Million Pound Game against Leigh Centurions in 2022 and they’ll look to replicate that sort of quality as they head into 2023.
As for rivals Dewsbury, they’ll look to massively improve on 2022 where they unfortunately got relegated from the Championship and they’ll aim to make an immediate return with a strong campaign in League One.
The Rams are coached by former Super League man Liam Finn who played for the Rams last season, and he’ll be joined by player-coach Paul Sykes as well in their campaign for promotion, and in his first game today oversaw an encouraging 32-22 defeat.
Having lost all three derbies last season and playing away from home it wasn’t on the cards for a Dewsbury upset but they went it at half-time leading and looked set to do so, something Finn referenced.
“We’re happy to be back, just six weeks training so the lads are happy to have a run our. Obviously in the first half it was encouraging, second half we showed some spirit to dig in especially towards the back end.
“If you look at the result as a whole, then we turned it into amateur hour for five or ten minutes about ten minutes after half time which cost us and basically lost us the game. Overall there’s loads of stuff to be positive about but also loads to work on as well.”
The Rams went in 10-4 up at half time but by the 58th minute they were facing a double digit deficit with Batley going 20-10 up, before the eventual result of 32-22.
On the whole Finn was positive, there not being a need to hammer his side for losing to a team that finished 29 points clear of them in the most recent campaign, and he’ll lead them into their next pre-season game against Bradford Bulls on January 15th in a home game.
As for Batley they’ll continue their build-up to the 2023 season with games against York City Knights and Hunslet having been confirmed.