IN VAIN: George Flanagan's double haul proved inadequate as the Bulldogs slipped to a fourth-successive defeat
A TWO-TRY lead with little time remaining should have been enough to maintain Batley's hopes of a strong Championship finish.
With a play-off place all but sealed, the Bulldogs harboured hopes of closing their campaign as runners-up.
But having somehow capitulated with less than seven minutes remaining at the hands of Whitehaven, it seems John Kear's side may have to again settle for fifth and a difficult end-of-season tussle.
The hosts had the better of the opening exchanges, despite a slow start.
But it was Batley who scored first as hooker George Flanagan drove over from dummy-half, while the Whitehaven defence struggled to retreat. Tom Hemingway converted from close range.
Whitehaven replied on 17 minutes through Papua New Guinea international Jessie Joe Parker and former Super League ace Jamie Rooney tagged on the extras to level matters.
In a quick-fire exchange winger Greg Johnson hit back for the visiting Bulldogs, making the most of some lacklustre defending.
And there were celebrations among the home ranks as James Cameron capped off a superb Scott McAvoy break from deep inside the Whitehaven half.
Hemingway and Rooney delivered from the kicking tee to again tie the scores at 12-12.
However, the away side were ahead as the pair returned to the dressing rooms thanks to the efforts of replacement hooker Paul Mennell. Hemingway was once again on target the extras.
But Whitehaven had the final say of the first half as Rooney tagged on a penalty goal with just seconds to spare.
The second half began in a similar fashion to the first. It was error-strewn and largely unappealing to the 730 in attendance.
Whitehaven began to build pressure, though, and on the hour were rewarded as Craig Calvert crossed to claim his side's 100th try of the season.
The Bulldogs were left trailing as Rooney landed the touchline conversion, making it 20-18.
Batley snatched back some momentum with a penalty and it resulted in much-needed points as front-rower Alex Rowe made the most of sudden territory.
The former Sheffield prop crashed over from first receiver and Hemingway carried on his perfect record, converting brilliantly.
The half-back was again called into kicking action when Flanagan grabbed his second on a white-hot afternoon.
Kear's men were 10 points clear but the Bulldogs were left hanging on following the surprise sin-binning of Jason Walton.
The centre's high tackle left his fellow teammates a man down for the closing stages, as temperatures soared towards 30ºC.
And Whitehaven began to claw their way back into contention.
Anthony Walker, whose foul play enabled Rowe to go over shortly before, made amends, first breaking and then scoring down the channel where Walton would have stood.
Four minutes remained when disaster struck for Batley.
A second Calvert touchdown tied the scores at 30-30, Rooney's subsequent goal firing the now sixth-placed outfit into the lead.
But Whitehaven were still not satisfied and ensured all three points as Parker crossed the whitewash to condemn the Bulldogs to a fourth-straight defeat.
BULLDOGS: Miles Greenwood 8; Johnny Campbell 7; Jason Walton 6; Danny Maun 8; Greg Johnson 7; Gareth Moore 6; Tom Hemingway 8; Alex Rowe 7; George Flanagan 8; Dan Fleming 9; Alex Bretherton 8; John Davies 7; Jay Leary 7. Subs: Josh Johnson 6; Paul Mennell 8; Liam Walmsley 6; Byron Smith 7.
Tries: Flanagan (11, 67), Johnson (23), Mennell (33), Rowe (63)
Goals: Hemingway 5/5
WHITEHAVEN: Adam Swift 9; James Cameron 8; Scott McAvoy 8; Jessie Joe Parker 9; Craig Calvert 8; Jamie Rooney 8; Cain Southernwood 7; Anthony Walker 8; Neil Thorman 7; Dave Houghton 8; Lee Doran 7; Rhys Clarke 7; Lee Paterson 6. Subs: Carl Sice 8; Danny Barker 8; Paul Jackson 8; Bradd Crellin 7.
Tries: Parker (17, 79), Cameron (26), Calvert (60, 76), Walker (73)
Goals: Rooney 6/7
Referee: Ronnie Laughton
Sin-Bin: Jason Walton (Bulldogs) - High Tackle
ThePress Man of The Match: Tom Hemingway – Led the Bulldogs brilliantly, his perfect record with the boot an added bonus
Match Rating: 4/5
By Steve Martyn