Bulldogs reach Championship summit

BATLEY Bulldogs moved to the top of the Kingstone Press Championship after making it four wins from five with a comfortable 44-12 victory against winless Workington Town.

Six unanswered second-half tries saw the Bulldogs jump from fifth into top spot, as other results went their way on another fine afternoon for John Kear’s much-improved side.

Phil Veivers’ strugglers, who led at the midway point of the first half and only trailed by two points at the break, crumbled in the second half as the Championship’s early-season surprise package raced away to continue their excellent start to the season.

For Kear’s men, Alex Brown came in to make his fourth debut for the club. The winger replaced Joe Chandler, who missed out after suffering a head injury in the eye-catching win at Halifax last weekend.

The hosts were in the ascendancy from the moment Town stand-off Carl Forber spilt Pat Walker’s kick off. But, as was the theme for the first quarter, the Bulldogs’ attack lacked bite at the crucial moments.

And in the 16th minute, the Cumbrians punished the Dogs. Winger Brett Carter broke from deep inside his own half and set up centre Declan Hulme to open the scoring.

But within four minutes, the hosts were level. Another Keegan Hirst offload, something that had troubled the visitors all half, set up the charging Cain Southernwood, who dragged himself over next to the posts.

By the 27th minute, the West Yorkshire side were in front. Scrum-half Dom Brambani, who got away with what looked like a knock on earlier in the set, launched a kick which was plucked out of the air by Chris Ulugia for his third try of the season.

Five minutes before the break, ill-discipline, which haunted Town all afternoon, gifted the hosts with a chance to extend their lead. Substitute Jarrad Stack was sent back to the bench for ten minutes and Walker slotted home the penalty goal to make it 14-6.

From the restart, Jarrad Sammut drilled the ball into touch and gave the depleted visitors a chance to strike back before the interval.

Opening try-scorer Hulme duly delivered, returning the favour to Carter by setting him up in the corner. Forber added the difficult extras to reduce the gap to just two points at half-time.

Alex Bretherton kicked off the second-half scoring, crashing over within two minutes of the restart. Then, just before the hour mark, Southernwood’s interception deep inside his own half was eventually finished by the impressive James Brown.

Brambani set up lively substitute hooker Alistair Leak for the Bulldogs’ fifth try, before half-back partner Southernwood finished an excellent move down the left for this second of the afternoon.

The returning Alex Brown completed the scoring in the final moments, acrobatically touching down the outstanding Brambani’s cross kick.

Kear was very impressed with his team’s performance on the day and start to the season in general.

“The media have made us their darlings at the minute and once you get up there, you’re there to be shot at,” said Kear.

“We’re still just five games into a 23-round regular season and there’s a lot of work to be done. We’re not getting carried away but it’s a heck of a start.”

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