Batley Bulldogs Match Report by Joshua Chapman (@Chapalar)
Following the previous week’s defeats to Doncaster RL and Dewsbury Rams, Paul March and his Keighley Cougars side came into this Northern Rail Cup tie with the Batley Bulldogs looking for a much needed victory to boost the side’s confidence.
The changes from the previous week saw Danny Jones move to full back with Paul White moving out onto the left wing which saw Jesse Sheriffe dropping from the side. Ryan Patchett and Ben Sagar took places in the thirteen with Andy Shickell dropping to the interchanges where he was to be joined by Lewis Reed. Olly Pursglove and Scott Law both missed out through injury from the previous week.
Danny Jones got the game underway and forced an early knock on from the Bulldogs but from the resulting scrum Cougars threw away possession with Jones knocking on in the tackle which started a period of Bulldogs domination which cumulated in Ben Black finding a gap in the defensive line to break the early deadlock with Gareth Moore converting with ease.
From the kick off, Danny Jones kick off found its way out onto the full which allowed the Bulldogs to put the hosts on their own ten metre line but the Cougars defence held out strong despite having to drop out from behind the post after Paul White knocked out behind the posts.
From the resulting set the Bulldogs went in search for another try but lost the ball on the fourth and James Haley threatened to break away to bring the Cougars their first points but instead won a penalty after the ball was stripped in the tackle by the Bulldogs defence. From the penalty, Cougars made their way up the field but an unsavoury incident was placed on report after Paul March came to blows with two of the Batley’s defence.
From the penalty then awarded to the Cougars, they dragged some fantastic rugby which Marchy was hoping for following the previous two weeks defeats and some clever offloads from himself and then James Haley sent Paul White over in the corner with Danny Jones then missing the conversion.
From the kick off, Cougars showed some more of this rugby being displayed by making their way up the field of play with relative ease with Paul White being held up on the line. From the play which followed, James Haley collected the ball and barged his way over the line despite being greeted by a group of Bulldogs defenders to put the hosts into a two point lead as Danny Jones missed the conversion yet again.
The next ten minutes were a bit of a dull affair with errors and interceptions taking over the game with the Bulldogs coming closest to the tryline after Ben Black intercepted a pass from Danny Jones and raced seventy metres before offloading to Ben Blackmore who was halted by the Cougars defence. Jason Walton was then sin binned following a reckless high shot on Sean Hesketh.
Cougars then from the resulting penalty went and extended their lead with the quick offloading pair of Paul March and James Haley teaming up to send Paul White over in the corner in a carbon copy off the Cougars opening try with Jones missing the conversion to keep the Bulldogs within a sniff off the Cougars. The ugly play continued with Danny Jones throwing a high shot with Tom Hemingway then stamping on Jode Sheriffe as the game went out into half time.
The second half began with Cougars making an error straight from kick off which allowed the Bulldogs possession from a dropout. Unfortunately for the Cougars, this allowed Batley to attack and they eventually broke the line following a knock on by Buster as Ayden Faal found his way over in the corner with Gareth Moore then missing the conversion.
The Cougars weren’t letting the Bulldogs get back in without a fight with Buster forcing a knock on from Ayden Faal with Andy Shickell intercepting and flattening three of the Batley defenders attempting to tackle him but the Bulldogs kept biting back and eventually got their rewards with Gareth Moore bringing the sides level with a penalty conversion following a high shot bang in front of posts from Buster.
Cougars got possession back with Jode Sheriffe chasing the ball down which forced Gareth Potts to put the ball out on play and from the resulting set the Cougars kept the ball alive which resulted in Paul March sending Jode Sheriffe barging over the line to bring the Cougars lead back and they extended this as Danny Jones converted successfully for the first time in the game.
Bulldogs got the ball back from the kick off and kicked a forty-twenty to apply the pressure to the Cougars line. Buster was then punished for a high shot and Gareth Moore converted the penalty and then they looked like they were in to score a try with Ben Blackmore going in the corner but the referee ruled for a forward pass but the winger got the ball back almost immediately and went over at long last with Gareth Moore missing the conversion.
Bulldogs then took the lead for the first time since midway in the first half as George Flanagan fought his way over with Gareth Moore converting to give the Bulldogs a four point lead but the Cougars didn’t see this as game over and pushed and pushed and pushed to retake the lead but this came to an abrupt end with Danny Jones sent to the sin bin and then some clever keep the ball alive play by the visitors saw Jason Walton burst over to end the tie with Gareth Moore converting.
The Cougars tried to get a last chance to end the game but the Bulldogs broke away with Ben Blackmore who cut inside to offload to Jason Walton who then played the ball into the hands of Gareth Moore who ran thirty metres to cross the line and then converted his own try to extend the visitors lead to fourteen points and the game was brought to an end as Tom Hemingway crossed to end another Bulldogs play before converting his own try to end the game.
Cougars: Jones, Lawton, Haley, Williams, White, March, Leatherbarrow, Hesketh, Feather, Patchett, Sagar, Chandler, Rawlins. Interchanges: Shickell, Jode Sheriffe, Reed, Parkinson.
Bulldogs: Potts, Blackmore, Walton, Faal, Johnson, Black, Moore, Smith, Flanagan, Fleming, Bretherton, Walmsley, Lindsay. Interchanges: Applegarth, Hirst, Hemingway, Mullally.