BATLEY will go into the Championship play-offs in fine form after ending the season with four wins from five games, capped by last weekend’s 34-16 victory at already relegated York.
The hosts had led 16-12 heading into the final quarter but, as has often been the case for Gary Thornton’s men this season, especially in their 11-game losing run to end the campaign, they let a winning position slip, with the Bulldogs scoring four tries and a penalty in an eventful last 17 minutes.
York also had Joe Pickets and Sam Scott sent off late on.
The former went for punching Jonny Campbell after the pair squared up to each other. The incident was not caught on camera but Campbell was left bloodied and dazed.
Scott then went for dissent, albeit understandably after a somewhat frustrating performance from referee George Stokes, which topped off a frustrating season on the whole for the Knights.
The opening quarter had been well contested but with only two chances, both to the home team.
The first was created by a good George Elliott run which saw Ben Johnston caught by Jonny Campbell.
The second saw Jonny Presley, Scott and Elliott combine but the try be ruled out for a forward pass.
York then lost influential hooker Jack Lee to a bad head cut and they paid for a mistake by full-back Tom Carr, who dropped a kick to give away a scrum after which Anthony Mullally powered over.
Liam Walmsley then overpowered a Johnston tackle and got the ball out for Danny Maun to finish well, Tom Hemingway adding both conversions.
Johnston struck back with a solo try before the break and York levelled on the resumption when Elliott reacted quickest to a misplaced Ben Black kick, catching it superbly beside the touchline on
half-way and streaking home.
The try of the day followed. Nicholson offloaded to Johnston, who cut inside and sent Jonny Presley sprinting in, with Tom Carr adding his second conversion.
A sequence of controversial decisions then went against York, with Stokes ignoring advice from his touch judges more than once.
All the officials missed a clear forward pass which brought a try for Gareth Potts on 63 minutes, before the dangerous Mennell brilliantly got over from a scrum.
A rampaging Mullally – a handful all day – battered through some tired defending, being awarded the touchdown with plenty of bodies under him, before an Elliott mistake under a high ball set the position for Miles Greenwood to get over, Stokes giving the try despite a touch judge’s reservations.
Pickets and Scott then saw red, and Hemingway, with four conversions already in hand, sealed Batley’s latest triumph with a penalty goal.