Batley prop Byron Smith believes the Bulldogs are happy to play the underdog for a third time in tomorrow’s Kingstone Press Championship Grand Final against Sheffield Eagles at Leigh Sports Village.
The Bulldogs, who could field Giants duo Anthony Mullally and Josh Johnson, booked their place in their first Grand Final after a dramatic 21-20 golden point triumph at Featherstone Rovers.
That came a week after coach John Kear’s men had secured an equally-dramatic 16-15 play-off success in extra time at Leigh Centurions.
Batley were the underdogs in both games, and Smith is sure the men from Mount Pleasant will enjoy having that tag again this weekend, even though he knows the Bulldogs will still be feeling the pressure of the occasion.
“I know we’re underdogs for the Grand Final, but we’re there to win so there’s still pressure on us,” said Smith.
“I know a lot of people will be expecting Sheffield to come out on top, but our expectations differ. If we don’t win we’ll come away massively disappointed.
“When you get to a final everyone’s really pumped up for it, and it’s often about who turns up on the day and who gets the rub of the green so it’s not as important as normal.”
Added Smith: “That said, I think we’ve peaked at the right time. We had a slump during the season but, if anything, it’s benefited us now. It sounds strange but it galvanised the team, and the Grand Final’s come at the right time for us.
“These close games have given us confidence. If it’s another tight game on Sunday, knowing that we’ve won two games via golden point will help.”