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Cougars Fall To First Defeat

Batley Bulldogs 38-12 Keighley Cougars Match Report by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)

CRAIG Lingard’s return to his old club showed the standard Cougars must reach if they make it to the Championship as Batley beat them 38-12 in a friendly at Mount Pleasant.

The Bulldogs showed why they were a top-four side in the second tier last season against a Keighley team who lost Ritchie Hawkyard to illness beforehand.

Lingard said: “I’m pleased with how we finished but not necessarily how we started.

“The gulf in class showed mentally and I feel we showed Batley too much respect and it took us a while to get into the game.

“We were 16-0 down and completing at 37% and that impacts on everything you do in both attack and in defence so one thing we will be focusing on next Sunday is starting better than today.

“Batley racing into that early lead set the platform for the afternoon and we started feeling sorry for ourselves and looking to blame other people like the referee, blaming him for some of the decisions when there was nothing wrong with them.

“I thought Mike Emmett was outstanding and he played the full 80 minutes as we lost Josh Lynam fairly early which meant our forward rotations were limited on so Mike had to do the full eighty against a top side like Batley and it was an immense effort.”

Batley opened the scoring in the 11th minute when, after trapping Liam Darville in-goal, Dominic Brambani got the offload away from the drop out to Michael Hayward, who dived over.

The Bulldogs doubled their advantage just three minutes later when after pressure on the line, James Davey found room to get the offload away to send Alex Bretherton racing in next to the uprights.

The home side continued to show why they finished third in last season’s Championship on the quarter-hour mark as Davey turned provider once more to send Macauley Hallett crashing through to touch down.

Davey continued to show his class out of dummy half and, five minutes before the interval, went from provider to scorer as he shimmied through the line and sidestepped Harry Aaronson.

But the Cougars did get on the scoreboard in the final minute when Matty Beharrell put through a grubber into the bottom corner and Andy Gabriel pounced on a spill to touch down.

Batley continued their fine first-half performance after the break and only took two minutes to score their fifth try of the afternoon as James Brown forced his way over from close range.

The Bulldogs scored once more from the restart. On the back of a penalty, the ball was worked to Dane Manning who somehow managed to turn his way through a tackle to squeeze over the whitewash.

Former Cougar Joe Chandler grabbed the home side’s seventh of the afternoon when, after a lovely break downfield, he dived over from Brambani’s offload following great work from Manning to start the move.

Adam Ryder nearly scored what would have been the try of the match as he dived into the left-hand corner but was knocked into touch by a superb Danny Cowling tackle inches before he touched the ball down.

The visitors had the final say though as Scott Law managed to squeeze through and get his outstretched arm over after a great offload from Mike Emmett.

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