SWINTON’S celebrations were put on hold as Batley Bulldogs gained their first win in five games with a 33-18 victory as the Lions commemorated 50 years since claiming back-to-back First Division Championships, writes Jeff Tyldesley.
Within three minutes, Vinny Finigan and Lee Paterson trapped Richie Hawkyard in-goal. Once they had received the ball, Scott Leatherbarrow slipped a smart grubber in-goal for Josh Griffin to dive onto with ease.
Discipline was again one of the Lions’ key problems and following Josh Barlow’s high shot on Josh Griffin, Paterson made up for the first missed conversion by slotting over a penalty.
The Bulldogs went further ahead as Byron Smith looped a fine ball out of a three-man tackle which Leatherbarrow utilised, shipping the ball wide for Alex Bretherton to crash over.
Soon after Leatherbarrow chipped over, re-gathered and via Griffin was supporting his own break to score by the posts. Leatherbarrow converted as he took on kicking duties.
After Lions forward Luke Menzies went close, Swinton finally breached the Bulldogs’ defence, with O’Brien throwing a lovely dummy and scooting over before converting his own score. Leaving Batley with a 10-point half-time lead, despite their dominance.
The home side had the better of the early second period exchanges, Alex Rowe needing to make a fine grab to collar Ritchie Hawkyard as he shot through a gap and Atkin was spotted using obstruction when he was threatening to break down the right.
Moments later, there was no stopping Atkin as he intercepted and sprinted 90 metres to score. O’Brien added a tremendous conversion from wide out.
The Bulldogs weren’t short of a retort though. Mike Morrison went too high on Leatherbarrow, he smartly ducked underneath before spotting an overlap on the right and a perfect chip kick to Finigan followed, which saw him release Paterson for the try.
Swinton generously booted their short kick off straight out of play and a further error allowed Anthony Nicholson to scoop up a loose ball and score for the Bulldogs.
Batley went in for the kill, Josh Barlow did well stopping Leatherbarrow again before Griffin chucked the ball to Lewis. This time it was no interception try but the Lions made enough forward progress to allow Joe Philbin to score his first four pointer for Swinton.
With the Lions now in bonus point territory, late tries for the second time in two weeks cost Swinton dearly. Luke Blake snuck over from dummy half. Leatherbarrow goaled and even added a cheeky one pointer late on.