Bulldogs give leaders a fright

FEATHERSTONE Rovers rightfully won the league leaders crown with a well organised performance against a Batley side who took them all the way before going down 3426.
The true champions side of the Rovers was seen at its best when, although behind on 75 minutes, they remained cool and clinched the title with two blistering tries in the final five minutes of the game.
The Bulldogs began the stronger as winger Johnny Campbell appeared to collect a dropped pass only a few metres from his own line and sped away chased by four Rovers players.
Campbell’s pace took him under the posts for a seemingly perfect longrange try but after consultation with his touch judge the referee disallowed the score and awarded head and feed at a scrum where Campbell had started his run.
Josh Griffin then dropped the ball in the Rovers’ in goal area and a great chance was missed.
Featherstone soon made them pay as Andy Kain broke and fired out a long pass to Zak Hardaker, who raced in for a fine try, Liam Finn converting with a masterful kick.
Gareth Moore’s kicking was causing Featherstone some problems and one skyhigh punt was allowed to bounce by the Rovers defence and Ash Lindsay, having a splendid game, was first to the ball, collected and raced over under the posts for Moore to convert.
There was a burst of scoring just before halftime.
Firstly Tommy Gallagher produced a strong run and perfect onehanded pass to brother John, who crashed over to the delight of the Batley fans. Moore converted on 31 minutes.
Three minutes later Hardaker crossed and  Finn’s kick made it 1212.
Batley looked to be going in with a lead when, on 39 minutes, John Gallagher returned the compliment to brother Tommy and sent the powerful forward in for an unconverted try.
But in injury time Matty Dale grabbed a closein try after Batley had failed to control the kick off from their late score. Finn converted and Rovers went in the happiest.
The first score after the break was going to be crucial and it went to the visitors as, on 50 minutes, Stuart Dickens took Finn’s pass to power over, the try creator converting.
Minutes later Moore went high stepping through a host of Rovers defenders and scored a super individual try and added a great conversion.
On 65 minutes Kris Lythe, who had a terrific game throughout, went on a 30metre run and found Moore on his shoulder, the half back sent out to Walton whose pace did the rest with an unconverted try.
Now behind 2624 and facing the slope, Rovers had it all to do and it was Finn, who must be the finest footballer in this division, who kicked superbly for Tom Saxton, who set sail for the Batley posts and his inside pass to Ross Divorty had the impressive substitute tearing in under the bar for a belting try, converted by Finn.
Now with their tails up and already tasting the title, Rovers clinched victory when Kain found Hardaker with a wide pass and the youngster raced over for his hat trick, Finn missing his only kick of the game.
BATLEY: Ian Preece 7, Johnny Campbell 7, Josh Griffin 8, Danny Maun 7, Lee Greenwood 6, Mick Govin 7, Gareth Moore 7, Byron Smith 6, Kris Lythe 8, Sean Hesketh 7, Jason Walton 7, John Gallagher 7, Ash Lindsey 8, Tommy Gallagher 8, Craig Potter 6, James Martin 6, David Tootill 7.
Tries: Lindsey 20, John Gallagher 31, Tommy Gallagher 39, Moore 55, Walton 65. Goals: Moore 3.
FEATHERSTONE: Ian Hardman 8 Zak Hardaker 8, Sam Smeaton 7, Liam Welham 7, Jon Steel 7, Andy Kain 8, Liam Finn 9, Tony Tonks 8, Ben Kay 7, Stuart Dickens 8, Jamie Field 8, Tim Spears 7, Matty Dale 7, Ross Divorty 7, Dane Manning 6, Jonny Grayshon 7, Tom Saxton 8.
Tries; Hardaker 5, 34, 79. Dale 40 Dickens 50, Divorty 75 Goals; Finn 5
Referee: Ronnie Laughton (Barnsley) / Half Time: 1618 / Pens; 77 / Weather: Sunny / Sin Bin: None / Sent Off: None / MOTM: Liam Finn (Featherstone) / Attendance: 1,422 / Match Rating 4/5.

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