DOM Brambani came back to bite his old side as Batley Bulldogs ended Sheffield Eagles’ 100 per cent start to the season with a 20-8 win over their full-time rivals in the Championship.
The experienced scrum-half, who swapped South for West Yorkshire during the off-season, scored a brace of tries as the hosts fought back from a half-time deficit to charge to an ultimately deserved win.
John Kear’s men held the promotion hopefuls scoreless in the second half as they recorded their second eye-catching victory of the season, following the opening-day success over Leigh Centurions.
Loose forward Pat Walker was also facing his former employers and Danny Cowling made his Bulldogs debut in the centres.
The former Doncaster man replaced Shaun Squires, who suffered a medial ligament injury in the narrow loss to Featherstone Rovers last time out.
For the visitors, Steve Thorpe returned to the front row and Papua New Guinea international Garry Lo made his Eagles debut on the wing.
It was the visitors who made the brighter start and when Wayne Reittie spilled the kick off, they camped themselves down at the Batley end.
The Eagles’ early pressure told in the ninth minute when Menzie Yere dived on Dave Hewitt's clever grubber into the left corner to open the scoring.
But Mark Aston's men let the Bulldogs straight back into the game, allowing Walker’s kick off to bounce into touch.
In the 16th minute, the hosts crossed for their first try.
A clever inside pass from the outstanding James Brown created just enough space for Brambani to dive over for his first try. Walker added the extras to nudge the Bulldogs 6-4 ahead.
On the half an hour mark, another perfectly-weighted Hewitt kick allowed Lo to open his Eagles account and give his new side an 8-6 half-time lead.
But just six minutes into the second half, Lo undid his earlier good work by failing to deal with Brambani’s low kick, allowing the 30-year-old to touch down the loose ball and put the Bulldogs back in front.
Ten minutes later, livewire replacement hooker Alistair Leak somehow wrestled his way over the whitewash despite the attention of a host of Eagles defenders.
On the hour, dissent towards referee Sam Ansell gave Walker the chance to rub salt into his ex-teammates’ wounds with a penalty.
The former Eagle calmly slotted home the kick, despite the difficult conditions, to increase the lead to two converted tries.
The Bulldogs made the final quarter of an hour more difficult than it perhaps should have been when hooker Luke Blake was sent to the sin-bin.
But the hosts withstood everything the Eagles could throw at them, before hammering a final nail into the visitors’ coffin when Walker kicked an excellent 40/20 to end any hopes of a comeback.
The Bulldogs’ surprise victory moves them level with a pack of teams, including the Eagles, with two wins from three, chasing early leaders Bradford Bulls.