“We need to go in with a positive attitude,” says Grix as Panthers aim to continue fine form against Batley

Halifax Panthers visit Batley Bulldogs on Sunday with payback firmly in their minds.

By James Robinson
Friday, 25th June 2021, 12:49 pm
Swinton v Halifax. Photo: Simon Hall/OMH Pics
Swinton v Halifax. Photo: Simon Hall/OMH Pics

The Panthers have already played Batley once this season, losing 16-9 in the first round of the Challenge Cup, and head coach Simon Grix knows Batley will be a tough test for his team.

He said: “It will be a bit different to play there, if you use your kicks well then the slope on the pitch can help you. We’ve been there a few times over the past few years and been beaten comfortably.

“This time, we’re probably playing one of the form teams in the competition and going in as underdogs.”

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The Bulldogs sit in third position in the overall standings, having won seven of their nine matches so far this season.

Whilst Grix recognises that both sides have moved on since the meeting last year, lessons can be learned from the defeat.

He said: “The main thing we took from that game was how toothless we were. The lads know each other a bit better now, and have developed that understanding of one another’s play.

“We tried to push the envelope far too often, instead of waiting until the perfect moment to score.”

The Panthers have won five out of their last six games, and find themselves in sixth place in the overall standings after a tough start to the season.

Grix is confident his side are becoming better every week, which can stand them in good stead for the rest of the campaign.

He said: “We’re still finding our way and improving, but a week can make a big difference.

“We need to go in with a positive attitude, that we can go and do a good job there. They aren’t going to roll over for us, we have to go and make it happen.”

Panthers’ forward Ben Kavanagh echoed Grix’s words, suggesting this weekend’s match will test just how far his side have come since the start of the season.

He said: “It’s always tough going to Batley. They did a job on us last time, and we need to show what we’ve been doing this week in training and over the last few weeks.”

A number of the Batley squad are ex-Halifax players, which Kavanagh believes will provide the Bulldogs with extra motivation to get one over on the Panthers.

He said: “They will always up their game, as they want to beat their old team. They have got threat all over the pitch really, so it’ll be a really hard match for us.”

Despite the Panthers’ excellent form, concerns still exist over occasional lapses in concentration. For Kavanagh, such mistakes must be eradicated, should his side hope to be competitive throughout the entire season and finish within the top places.

He said: “We’ve been playing for 40 minutes recently. Even against Swinton, we came out at the start of the second half and weren’t good.

“We need to concentrate against Batley, and stick to the game plan. If we avoid the silly offloads and other things we’ve been doing over the last few weeks, we’ll be okay.”