Photo: Ash Milnes
BATLEY BOYS edged out Dewsbury Celtic 29-22 in an entertaining midweek derby clash between two promotion hopefuls.
It was fourth hosting third in the Division Three table and the Boys now sit just a point behind their local rivals and, for now at least, just two behind the top two sides.
It’s been an impressive first season in the National Conference League for the club, and promotion is now a very real possibility after defeating one of the top three sides for the first time in five attempts.
They did so despite a disastrous start as Celtic raced into a 10-0 lead after 11 minutes and looked on course to back up their 26-10 win at Crow Nest Park over Batley with another victory.
The Boys knocked on with their first set of the match and their opponents took full advantage, moving the ball left for Matty Ginnelly to send George Senior through a gap, with Senior then converting his own score.
The home side were causing their own downfall with errors and penalties and could have been further behind before Celtic got their second try. The defence couldn’t prevent Danny Thomas from offloading, and Nathan Waring sent the ball to Leon Heeley on the wing to finish.
The momentum began to shift after that try, and Batley got their first points after Celtic lost possession in their own half.
Adam Bingham found Luke Sheridan to break through the line and he passed to Aaron James to finish the move off, with Bingham adding the kick.
Celtic conceded a penalty on the first set from the restart and that invited further pressure, from which Charlie Sandall made an impressive charge at the line. With the defenders all attempting to bring him down, he sneaked an offload to Luke Sheridan to cross, with Bingham’s kick edging them in front.
They were on a roll now, and another try followed five minutes later. Matt Sheridan was held up over the line but on the next play the Celtic winger missed the kick in and Josh Richter was presented with a simple touchdown.
Bingham couldn’t convert but he did edge the score on with an excellent drop goal from around 25m out in the final minutes of the half, giving the Boys a 17-10 lead at the break.
Like in the first half, the visitors made a great start to the second period to quickly reduce that to a single point.
A kick on the last play was knocked-on to give them a fresh set of six, and they moved the ball right with Thomas sending Ethan Ferry through to score.
It was Batley who maintained the upper hand though, and on the first play following a penalty Luke Sheridan slipped the ball to James to score his second of the match.
Richter then thought he had his second after touching down a grubber kick, but the try was disallowed after the referee consulted with his assistant.
However, they went over five minutes later when, on the back of a brilliant defensive set and winning a penalty, the ball went left on the last tackle and Matt Sheridan handed it to Gav Davis to crash over for his 10th try of the season.
Three minutes after that, Bingham excellently slotted over a penalty goal from 45m out, leaving Celtic requiring three tries to win the match.
They made up some of the difference when Senior’s grubber kick was touched down by Will Copley in the left corner, with Senior’s conversion sneaking over with the help of the crossbar.
It was too little and too late though, as the Boys held out for a significant victory.