Batley Bulldogs secured their second league victory of the season in superb fashion with a convincing 54-12 win over Sheffield Eagles at the Beaumont Legal Stadium. The Bulldogs bounced back from defeat at home to Featherstone Rovers despite a fairly tense opening twenty minutes.
Alistair Leak had initially dived over for the opening try of the game but Batley were immediately pegged back by Sheffield through Elliot Minchella. Batley soon found their rhythm through Brad Day after resolute defence at the other end. Day dived over after strong link-up with Batley’s opening try-scorer Leak to give Batley the lead again.
Soon after, debutant Tom Holmes, on-loan from Castleford Tigers, entered the field and made an immediate impact. Holmes found himself in space for the first time and finished off a fine Batley move to extend the advantage just a minute after coming on. For the third time in succession, Cain Southernwood added the extras.
Just four minutes later and Batley were over again, this time through Wayne Reittie in the corner after quick hands in the build-up by Holmes and Manning. Dom Brambani tormented the Sheffield defence with superb kicking in dangerous areas which gave Batley the edge when under pressure.
With half time fast approaching, Brad Day crashed over for his second try of the game for Batley after a weaving his way past a lacklustre Sheffield defence. Day’s try and Southernwood second missed conversion of the match ensured that The Bulldogs would take a 26-6 lead into half-time.
Just five minutes after the restart, Batley were over once more, this time through Dom Brambani. Fresh from his 300th career appearance against Featherstone, Brambani skipped his way past two Sheffield defenders before finishing under the sticks. Batley were threatening to run riot and Sheffield were constantly on the back foot. A 48th minute Sin-Bin for Sheffield’s Will Hope opened the floodgates for Batley.
Within a minute of the yellow card, Wayne Reittie was over for his second try of the game in the corner. The ever-present Joel Farrell, making his debut after an injured arm, fed Dane Manning. His quick hands allowed Reittie to finish off another exquisite Batley move.
Just thirty seconds after the restart and Batley were over again. This time, Tom Holmes was creator again, feeding Macauley Hallett out wide with a perfectly-timed looping ball, giving Hallett the easiest try of the game. Once again, Southernwood added the extras.
Then, Batley produced one of the tries of the season through Tom Holmes. Manning, under pressure, somehow released a superb blind off-load to Brambani, who had spotted the run of Holmes, his inch-perfect grubber kick sat up perfectly for man of the match Holmes to extend the lead further. Southernwood’s conversion brought Batley’s points tally to 50. Batley’s final try came with fifteen minutes to play. Again, a superb free-flowing move which included fast hands from Holmes allowed Mikey Hayward in for a try of his own in the corner. Southernwood, this time, was unable to add the extra points.
Batley arguably let the foot off the gas in the final moments of the game and were punished. Sheffield secured a consolation try late on through Chisholm despite strong appeals for a forward pass in the build-up. The 662 attendance included a strong following from Batley and the fans’ man of the match vote saw Tom Holmes named man of the match on debut. Fellow debutant Joel Farrell was a close second.
Head Coach Matt Diskin, speaking to Batley Bulldogs TV after the match, said “I thought it was a good disciplined performance. The opening twenty minutes Sheffield were resolute in defence but once we overcame that we were able to score some valuable points.” Looking ahead to Swinton, Diskin added “I think they’ve recruited well and will pose a tough challenge for us. They have a good squad and we’re looking forward to it.”
Images provided by Neville Wright