MATT DISKIN was justifiably satisfied with another impressive pre-season showing after watching his Batley side run in seven tries against a Keighley outfit hotly tipped to press for promotion from League 1.
Diskin paid Keighley plenty of respect in naming a strong 22-man squad including Dane Manning, back from Halifax for a second stint with the Bulldogs, and James Brown who also missed the festive clash through injury.
“Offensively we took our opportunities well, although we still need to fine tune a few things,” commented the Batley boss.
“But the most pleasing thing was that we looked very good structurally in defence.
“It’s hard to get fluency into our play when we are making that many changes but we were very clinical with the opportunities we had.”
Batley, playing up the slope, made an enthusiastic start and, after forcing successive sets, it was little surprise when new club captain Dom Brambani put Michael Hayward over with Patch Walker adding the first of three conversions from wide.
James Davey’s short pass enabled Alex Bretherton to easily brush off the challenge of full-back Liam Darville and score again minutes later and Davey was again the creator when Macaulay Hallett claimed Batley’s third try to give them a 16-0 lead.
The Cougars kept their shape and refused to panic but a classy Davey shimmied through the line then sidestepped the full-back for a superb solo try to increase Batley’s advantage.
Just before half-time a Matty Beharrell grubber kick bounced awkwardly and Andy Gabriel, pounced to grab a try back.
Within 90 seconds of the start of the second half James Brown helped restore the gap when he barged over from close range, Cain Southernwood this time converting with Walker off the field.
Manning powered over three minutes later, then Manning and Brambani danced through the Keighley defence to put Joe Chandler, a former Cougar, over.
They were finally rewarded when Scott Law crossed from a Mike Emmett pass.
Southernwood kicked two second-half goals for Batley, while Beharrell and Adam Brook landed the Cougars’ two conversions.
Keighley coach Craig Lingard, back on the ground where the end terrace is named after him for becoming Batley’s record try scorer, acknowledged: “I learned a lot about my players, I think you often learn a lot more in defeat than you do when everything goes well.
“We know we have to work on, mental toughness and preparation, because we gave the opposition too much respect.”
BATLEY: Michael Hayward 7, Shaun Squires 7, Sam Smeaton 7, Macaulay Hallett 7, Dave Scott 7, Patch Walker 8, Dom Brambani 8, Tom Lillicrop 7, James Davey 9, Alex Rowe 8, Alex Bretherton 8, Dane Manning 8, Brad Day 7. Subs: Cain Southernwood 7, Trae O’Sullivan 7, James Harrison 7, James Brown 8, Danny Bravo 7, Brad Hill 8, Alistair Leak 7, Danny Cowling 8, Joe Chandler 7.
Tries: Hayward (12), Bretherton (14), Hallett (19), Davey (34), Brown (42), Manning (45), Chandler (54). Goals: Walker 3/4, Southernwood 2/3.
KEIGHLEY: Liam Darville 7, Davey Dixon 7, Josh Casey 7, Adam Ryder 6, Andy Gabriel 7, Adam Brook 6, Matty Beharrell 7, Scott Law 7, James Feather 6, Brad Nicholson 6, Josh Lynam 5, Josh Tonks 7, Mike Emmett 8. Subs: Brendon Rawlins 7, Emmerson Whittel 6, Nathan Conroy 6, Neil Cherryholme 6, Vinny Finigan 6, Harry Aaronson 6, Callum Dunne 6.
Tries: Gabriel (39), Law (76). Goals: Beharrell (1/1), Brook (1/1).
Ref Rating: Harry Neville 70/100 / H/T: 22-6 / Pens: 7-9 / Sin Bin: None / Sent-Off: None / Weather: Overcast/ MOTM: James Davey (Batley)/ Attendance: 725 / Match Rating: 3/5.