ELITE LEAGUE PLAY-OFF SPECIAL: Troy's great expectations
6:00am Monday 24th September 2012 in By Andy Warren, Deputy sports editor, firstname.lastname@example.org, @AndyWarren_
TROY Batchelor has called on the Swindon Robins to live up to their billing as title contenders as they begin their play-off quest at Birmingham tonight.
The Robins were embroiled in a two-way battle with Poole for top spot in the Elite League before eventually finishing second in the regular-season standings, and the two sides have been hotly tipped to meet each other in the final.
But the Robins first have to negotiate their way past Birmingham while the Pirates take on Lakeside, and Batchelor believes now is the time for he and his teammates to deliver.
“We have been looking forward to the play-offs all season, and it is now that time, but we have to step it up,” he said.
“The play-offs have been in the back of our heads for a while now, and they have been a long time coming so we need to make it count. So far we have been injury free so that is good, and the play-offs are here so we need to live-up to what we have been talking about all year.”
Batchelor is happy to be returning to Perry Barr for the first leg following last week’s 46-44 victory over the Brummies, rather than having to travel to Lakeside to face the Hammers.
“Birmingham is way better than Lakeside, and we are much happier going back there rather than Lakeside because it is a tricky little track,” he said.
“Last time I went to Lakeside I only dropped one point, but Birmingham is more of a racer’s track and I think you can do a few more passes there.
“It is a fair track and I would rather be on a track like that in the play-offs.
“It is a bit of a psychological thing to be going back there too because we won without Hans, and they will be thinking we will be stronger so we will be tough to beat.”
But even if the Robins don’t manage to come away from Perry Barr with a first-leg victory, Batchelor is confident they will still ease through to the final.
“Even if we lose by a couple of points we will smash them at home because we are all fast there,” he said.
“We are definitely confident going into the home leg, as long as the track is how it normally is because it has been a bit bumpy in the last week or two.
“We will have to see what happens and take it as it comes, but we all believe we will get to the final.”