BATLEY'S bubble has well and truly burst in the Championship after they lost 32-24 at Mount Pleasant to a resurgent Swinton side which handed John Kear's Bulldogs their third league defeat on the bounce.
The Lions roared their way into an early 18-point lead, but were steadily pegged back either side of half time.
The Bulldogs got themselves within touching distance on a couple of occasions, but the visitors’ exciting back line produced the goods to hold off John Kear’s men on each occasion.
The visitors took the lead inside three minutes when Gabe Fell’s clever tip pass set up Shaun Robinson to race over next to the corner flag.
After quarter of an hour, the Lions came close to scoring a second when Stuart Littler intercepted Cain Southernwood’s loose pass on the Swinton 10-metre line.
Fortunately for the Bulldogs, their scrambling wingers managed to get to the tiring centre’s kick before speedster Liam Marshall.
But from the following set, Marshall got his try – racing on to Chris Atkin’s inch-perfect kick to double the visitors’ lead.
The Lions extended their advantage to 18 points when Ben White set Rhodri Lloyd through a gaping hole in the Bulldogs line, before the back rower gave it back to his stand-off to finish under the sticks.
Adam Gledhill gave the home side a lifeline when he wrestled his way over in the 27th minute, reducing the deficit to 18-6 at the break.
Just like the first half, the visitors caught the Bulldogs cold at the start of the second period.
On-loan Bradford Bulls hooker Vila Halafihi dived over from a play the ball close to the whitewash to stretch the lead back out to 18 points.
Back-to-back tries then brought the hosts back to within a converted try of levelling the scores.
First, Gledhill powered his way over for his second of the afternoon, then James Harrison’s excellent offload set up Dave Scott to scamper over.
But within two minutes, Marshall chased and calmly finished a long kick down field from a free play to halt the Bulldogs’ comeback.
With little over ten minutes left on the clock, James Brown’s brilliant short pass set the charging Scott through a gap to score and restore the Bulldogs’ hope.
But Swinton refused to be pegged back and sealed yet another eye-catching victory when Gabe Fell finished off Andy Thornley’s storming run through the heart of the Bulldogs’ defence.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Batley head coach Kear.
“I don’t think we did ourselves justice. Our start was absolutely atrocious and we didn’t do ourselves any favours whatsoever.
“They’re 18 nil up and after that, you’re hanging on to a cliff face.
“Our psychological preparation just wasn’t good enough.
“I’m certain we came here today thinking that we’d just turn up on our own ground, which has become a fortress, and win.
“But it looked like a fortress built on sand today.
“If you’re going to win in this competition, every player has to turn up with their A-game.”