Batley Bulldogs come from behind to snatch a dramatic 22-18 victory against Swinton Lions. Braces from both Dave Scott and Macauley Hallett were the difference as Batley’s spirited second half fight-back proved pivotal.
Despite Batley being heavy odds-on favourites before the game it was Swinton who started the strongest. Batley found themselves behind within the opening four minutes. Robinson was able to find space in the corner for the Swinton Lions before forcing himself over. Atkins was unable to add the extras for the away side.
Soon after, Swinton were over again. This time through full-back Jack Murphy after quick hands on the break. On this occasion, the conversion was successfully added by Atkin.
Batley were struggling to find any sort of respite from the early Swinton pressure. However, midway through the first half, a Swinton knock-on gave the Bulldogs their first real opportunity to apply pressure.
From the following set, Dom Brambani’s superb grubber kick was poorly dealt with by Swinton in defence and full-back Dave Scott was able to pounce on the ball for Batley’s first try. Cain Southernwood was able to add the extra points from under the sticks.
With the score line at 6-10, the game was finely in the balance with both teams squandering opportunities. For the second time in a week, the introduction of Tom Holmes on the half-hour mark was to be a big turning point for the Bulldogs.
Batley centurion Wayne Reittie was penalised for a shoulder charge on the brink of half time and was arguably lucky to escape further punishment. From the resulting penalty, Swinton’s Atkin was able to add two more points to Swinton’s total.
Batley’s final attack before half-time almost ended in a try. Tom Holmes’ pass wide was taken in by Bretherton who lunged for the try-line before being penalised for a double movement.
At half time, the Bulldogs trailed Swinton Lions, 6-12.
Swinton again started strong in the second half and early pressure paid off and Andy Thornley crashed over for the visitors in the corner. Atkin was unable to convert from out wide.
Just moments later and Swinton added to their total. Atkin made up for the missed conversion by stretching further ahead with a penalty after the Bulldogs were penalised for being offside.
Handling errors were costing Batley in attack and were soon denied another try after a mistake out wide when the try-line was just metres away. Seconds later, Batley were again denied on the line by a knock-on in goal.
Batley’s first major period of pressure during the game came soon after. Two goal-line drop outs were forced and pressure was eventually turned to points. Cain Southernwood’s inch-perfect kick was pounced on in-goal by Macauley Hallett for Batley’s second try and a much needed lifeline. Southernwood then added the extra two points to make it a six-point game.
Momentum was firmly in Batley’s favour thereafter and the Bulldogs forced multiple errors as the final quarter of the game approached.
Then, Tom Holmes played a delightful pass wide for Dave Scott who threw an exquisite dummy before finishing superbly in the corner. Batley were within two points after Southernwood’s missed conversion.
Batley were completely dominant late on as Swinton began to tire. Sam Smeaton was denied a certain try after being held up but Batley’s immense pressure continued.
Then, just minutes from time, the pressure paid off for the Bulldogs after an incredible solo run by Dave Scott. The ball was thrown wide by Holmes and Hallett barged his way through for his second try of the game to put Batley ahead for the first time. Southernwood’s kick was marginally wide and Batley lead by a slender two points in the closing moments.
Batley’s second half domination was capped in the final minute when Cain Southernwood added two extra points from a penalty to stretch Batley’s lead to four points. Batley survived some minor late pressure from Swinton to register a second successive win.
FT Batley Bulldogs 22-18 Swinton Lions.
Images provided by Neville Wright