For the second successive game, Batley Bulldogs gave their opponents a twelve-point start before coming back to blitz local rivals Dewsbury Rams at the Tetley's Stadium.
DEWSBURY RAMS 12-30 BATLEY BULLDOGS
by Mark Ward
Kingstone Press Cider Championship, Tetley's Stadium, 1 April 2013
Once the Batley Bulldogs start turning up for the full 80 minutes of their Kingstone Press Championship games, you do start to marvel at what they might be capable of achieving this season! Not for the first time this term, John Kear's side failed to perform for the first quarter of an hour of this evening's Heavy Woollen derby at Dewsbury, but once they found their feet, the Bulldogs comfortably overturned a 12-0 deficit and delivered a performance that lifted them onto the second rung of the Championship league ladder. The Rams, after a bright start, fell away badly in the second half, and the home fans were leaving long before George Flanagan's late try deprived them of a bonus point.
Much had been made in the pre-match build-up about the hosts' injury and confidence issues but, no doubt boosted by local pride, the Rams burst out of an early arm-wrestle to rack up a 12-point lead to leave their high-flying rivals reeling. It took just 6 minutes for Dewsbury to hit the front - the Bulldogs were caught napping down their right-hand side allowing Karl Pryce to bundle over almost unopposed in the corner. The impressive full-back Dale Morton (arguably the Rams' best player on the night) slotted over the tough conversion to make it 6-0, and just five minutes later, the hosts scored again as Aaron Brown jinked clear of the Bulldogs' defensive line and drew in his defensive marker to provide sufficient space for Gregg Scott to saunter in under the posts, again comfortably converted.
Unfortunately for Glenn Morrison's troops, that was about as good as it got for the Rams. Both Ben Black and Tom Hemingway gradually started to make Batley tick smoothly and the visitors eased their way past Dewsbury with a devastating three-try burst over a period of just eight minutes. It was Hemingway, again impressive this evening, who kick-started the recovery on 17 minutes when he spied a huge gap in the Rams' defence and dived through to touch down near the sticks before dusting himself off to convert the try. Four minutes later, John Davies' exceptional bullet pass bypassed the Dewsbury defence and allowed Johnny Campbell just enough space to dive in at the corner. Hemingway failed with the difficult conversion, but the 'Dogs drew to within just two points and the comeback was completed on 25 minutes when former Rams' favourite Ayden Faal picked up Black's pass to get in again at the corner, this time ably converted to push the visitors into a 16-12 advantage.
It could have been much worse for the hosts on 32 minutes when Davies broke powerfully clear, but he failed to find the supporting Faal with the Rams all at sea. In amongst this barrage of pressure from the Bulldogs, the closest the Rams came was on 34 minutes when Rob Spicer was held up on the last tackle near the line.
HALF-TIME: DEWSBURY RAMS 12-16 BATLEY BULLDOGS
Despite falling behind, Dewsbury again started the second half in bright fashion, and Scott Hale nearly drew them level on 46 minutes, but was held up by a staunch defensive effort on the line from the visitors. However, once more the Bulldogs gradually reasserted their superiority, and on 55 minutes they finally achieved some breathing space as Hemingway took advantage of referee Gareth Hewer wiping the tackle count clean near the Rams' line to feed in Jason Walton to breach the defensive line and run the ball in under the sticks allowing Hemingway a simple conversion for a 22-12 advantage.
The game then grew scrappy for a spell; Pryce should have done better with his pass to the outstretched fingers of Austin Buchanan with the try-line in sight and then Davies and Tom Lillycrop were called out by referee Hewer after the Batley man's untidy tackle on the Rams' prop as Dewsbury struggled to make any significant impact.
As the game drew to a close, the visitors once again upped the ante; Black's towering 40/20 kick preceded Faal being held up just short and then Alex Bretherton thought he had scored, but was denied by Liam Walmsley's forward pass. With an air of inevitability it was left to hooker Flanagan to seal the win as he burrowed over from close range on 79 minutes, converted by Hemingway. Still the drama wasn't finished - Morton's restart failed to go the required 10 metres, and conscious that an 18-point win would send the Bulldogs second in the Championship, the signal went out for Hemingway to take the two on offer from the halfway line. His dependable boot did the rest to round off a thoroughly satisfying derby win for the rampant 'Dogs.
DEWSBURY RAMS: 2 Morton, 4 Scott, 30 Watkinson, 26 Pryce, 21 Buchanan, 6 Brown, 27 Goulding, 8 Lillycrop, 14 Tebb, 10 Spiers, 3 Hale, 28 Walshaw, 11 Spicer. Interchange: 12 Tonks, 13 Gallagher, 23 Spaven, 32 Aizue.
T: Pryce, Scott
G: Morton 2
BATLEY BULLDOGS: 1 Greenwood, 2 Potts, 3 Walton, 20 Faal, 5 Campbell, 6 Black, 23 Hemingway, 8 Smith, 14 Flanagan, 19 Rowe, 11 Bretherton, 16 Davies, 17 L. Walmsley. Interchange: 13 Lindsay, 15 Hirst, 24 Whitmore, 25 Leary.
T: Hemingway, Campbell, Faal, Walton, Flanagan
G: Hemingway 5
SCORING SEQUENCE: 6-0, 12-0, 12-6, 12-10, 12-16, HT, 12-22, 12-28, 12-30
REFEREE: Gareth Hewer (Whitehaven)
MAN OF THE MATCH: Tom Hemingway (Batley Bulldogs) - outstanding with the boot for the second successive game.