Gutsy Bulldogs pipped by Rovers

FEATHERSTONE ground out their first win of the season over a defiant Batley side in a defence-dominated game that could have easily gone either way.

Kyle Briggs’s 42nd minute penalty goal ultimately gave Rovers their fourth victory over Batley in 14 months after both sides scored two converted tries.

The Bulldogs competed superbly but fell just short in their bid to repeat their surprise opening day success against Leigh.

Featherstone coach Jon Sharp and Batley boss John Kear were both pleased with the way their teams performed.

“I thought it was an ugly win,” said Sharp. “It was a real battle.

“We came up against a Batley team who were excellent for 60 minutes and never made an error. They were competing at 100 per cent but they threw the ball around as well.

“They challenged us and defensively I thought we handled it well.

“We worked hard for each other and I thought our bench was really good. Baldwinson, Ormondroyd and Tagg, in particular, were great and I thought it was the difference between the two sides.”

Kear felt crucial decisions went against Batley.

“I challenged the players to back up last week’s monumental effort against Leigh and effort wise I was really pleased with them,” said Kear.

“I thought we lost a little patience and tried to force a few things towards the end of the second half but I think Featherstone will feel they’ve been in a game.

“I thought we were very unfortunate with about five crucial decisions.”

Batley weathered early pressure before they took an eighth minute lead when Cain Southernwood sent in Dave Scott and Pat Walker converted.

Rovers, who again fielded Leeds Rhinos dual-registered players Ash Handley, Jordan Baldwinson and Mitch Achurch, levelled in the 17th minute.

Anthony Thackeray floated a kick towards the try-line and Handley plucked the ball out of the air to score his first try for the club.

Three minutes later Featherstone struck again when Misi Taulapapa went over from Briggs’s pass and Briggs added his second goal.

Play was then held up for six minutes because of a knee injury to Shaun Squires who was stretchered off.

Alex Rowe was then held up over the line in a spell of Batley pressure shortly before half-time.

The Bulldogs conceded two successive penalties early in the second half and Briggs kicked an easy goal from the second to edge Rovers further ahead.

Batley’s Alistair Leek looked as though he had forced his way over but referee Mike Woodhead ruled out the effort after consulting with a touch judge.

The visitors cut the gap to two points in the 59th minute when Adam Gledhill’s nicely-flighted kick to the corner saw Wayne Reittie pounce for a try that Walker converted from the touchline.

In the final quarter both sides had difficulty holding onto the ball in the heavy conditions.

Batley pressed strongly but were unable to crack a solid home defence.

Ian Hardman made a superb tackle to halt a surging run by Bulldogs centre Chris Ulugia and Briggs rescued Rovers with an excellent catch near his own try-line from Dom Brambani’s kick.

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