BATLEY ground out a first victory of the season in the Mount Pleasant mud as a dominant first-half performance saw them past Swinton Lions.
Having been beaten by Featherstone and Widnes in the first two weeks of the campaign, Craig Lingard got his first win as Bulldogs boss largely thanks to a 20-0 lead built up by half-time.
Johnny Campbell scored a double but it was Michael Ward’s try, precisely on the half-time hooter, that proved most crucial, and came despite the Bulldogs twice going down to 12 men in the opening 40 minutes.
“We knew that even in the third game of the season, this was a massive game as Swinton are expected to be around us,” said Lingard.
“We knew this week was massive, we put that pressure on the boys and they responded.
“I think we managed the conditions and the pitch pretty well for 95 per cent of the game.
“To say we were down to 12 men twice and we didn’t concede a point (in that time), it’s a massive testament to the effort that the players put in.”
Swinton coach Stuart Littler admitted that his side gave themselves too much to do following a lacklustre first half.
He said: “Them getting the try on half-time broke us a bit, to go 20 points down with the last effort of the half.
“I made my feelings known at half-time and I thought things improved in the second half, but we gave ourselves too much to do.”
Campbell made his first appearance of the season for Batley following a hamstring injury and needed only three minutes to make it a scoring return. Danny Yates brilliantly dummied his way through the line, found Dane Manning in support and he in turn offloaded for Campbell to finish.
The Bulldogs failed to convert further pressure and it looked like the game would shift when Toby Everett was sent to the sin-bin for a late tackle, but the home side defended well before marching up the pitch with Anthony Bowman, and Campbell leapt highest to catch a Yates chip and score again.
They continued to defy their numerical disadvantage and, after Ward burst through the tackles, Manning went over from close range.
Wayne Reittie was shown a red card – quickly changed to yellow when referee Ben Pearson realised he’d taken the wrong one out of his pocket – for kicking out, but again the extra man was no help to Swinton as Ward planted the ball down just as the half-time hooter sounded. Dale Morton converted the latter two scores for a well-deserved 20-0 lead.
The slope neutered Batley in the second half and evened things up, with the help of the increasingly muddy pitch on which the two sides slogged it out.
Swinton still had little threat but got their first points in the 63rd minute. Jack Hensen forced a drop out and then made the pass which allowed Mitch Cox to slide through.
Cox’s break got them motoring for a second try with seven minutes left, with Hensen’s delicate grubber kick then touched down by Frankie Halton, but it was too late for a comeback.