Today there will be two pre-season friendlies taking place. The matches will be the second and third rugby league games held in England in 2022 after York began the rugby league year with a 46-6 win over Midlands Hurricanes on Friday night.
Today sees Barrow and Workington meet at 15:00 whilst Bradford host Batley at the same time. But what can we learn from the two games?
Let’s start with Bradford v Batley. The game is a rematch of last season’s play-off battle between the two in which Elliot Hall’s late try secured Batley’s place in the semi-finals where they eventually lost to Toulouse who would go onto be promoted.
Elliot Hall however is now a Bradford player having worked as media manager for the Bulls last year whilst ending their season with a superb try for Batley. The speedster will now add quality to the Bulls squad alongside a number of exciting signings as John Kear prepares for another attempt at promotion.
Today’s game will be all about that for the Bulls. They’ll hope to lay down an early marker that they can push for promotion in 2022 despite the fact Leigh and Featherstone are seen as overwhelming favourites. By toppling the side who finished one place above them in 2021, Bradford can cement themselves as a dark horse for success this year.
It’ll also be a chance to get some of the new signing settled in and to test out some new combinations ahead of the Bulls’ season opener against Dewsbury on Sunday 30th January.
As for Batley, they’ll want to prove that they can compete with the big names like Bradford again in 2022 having finished last season just 80 minutes away from the Million Pound Game. A solid showing away today as well as continuing preparations for the new season will be what the Bulldogs will be hoping for this afternoon.
As for Barrow and Workington it’ll be a case of renewed rivalries. After finishing first and second in League 1 last year the pair secured their return to the second tier with Workington doing so via the play-offs defeating Doncaster in the final.
Back in the Championship, the game will be a good chance for them to send an early warning out to the rest of the league that they shouldn’t be underestimated and have designs on remaining in the Championship. Furthermore, it’ll be a chance for both sides to lay down a marker to each other. After all, finishing above the other promoted side will no doubt help their survival hopes so a victory here will give either side a huge boost going into the new campaign and a return to the Championship.