Bulldogs grind out away win over Hornets

Alistair Leaks try two minutes from full-time secured the Bulldogs a 24-14 win away to Rochdale as they remain sixth in the Kingstone Press Championship.
Alistair Leaks try two minutes from full-time secured the Bulldogs a 24-14 win away to Rochdale as they remain sixth in the Kingstone Press Championship.

Batley Bulldogs were made to work hard to record a 24-14 win away to Rochdale Hornets last Sunday as they consolidated sixth place in the Kingstone Press Championship following a third straight victory.

Batley maintained their recent upturn in form by following up wins against Swinton and Sheffield with a workmanlike performance at Spotland.

It was a nip and tuck encounter which was dominated by the forwards and was finally decided when hooker Alistair Leak darted over for a try from acting half-back two minutes from full-time.

Batley made the worst possible start as Jason Crookes knocked on straight from the kick off, gifting Rochdale possession.

Hornets moved left and centre Lewis Galbraith ran through a gap for a try in the opening minute but Danny Yates was off target with the conversion attempt from wide out.

Batley hit back with a 12th minute try as they took play close before switching back inside and a neat offload sent Adam Gledhill through a gap and skipping over between the posts to give Pat Walker a simple conversion.

Batley then capitalised on a Rochdale knock on as Dane Manning drove the ball in and produced a lovely offload to send Shaun Ainscough racing over behind the posts, with Walker’s goal giving them a 12-4 lead.

Rochdale responded with a spell of pressure which resulted in Batley conceding a series of penalties and being put on a team warning.

Batley’s defence was finally breached when Lewis Foster’s looping pass was gathered by winger Jake Eccleston, who scored in the corner but again the conversion attempt was off target.

Walker tagged on a penalty goal before the break as Batley led 14-8.

The second half was equally as close and it was Rochdale who struck first with a 53rd minute try as Ryan Maneely’s short pass was gathered by Gary Middlehurst, who forced his way over for a try which Yates converted to level.

A period of stalemate followed as both sides had spells on attack but defences remained solid.

A Walker up and under was gathered by full-back Declan Kay only for him to spill the ball when he was clattered by a well-timed tackle from Joel Farrell and Crookes.

From Batley’s resulting set, they were awarded a penalty and Walker edged them back in front with his fourth goal.

Victory was sealed two minutes from time as Rochdale spilled the ball close to halfway and Crookes scooped it up and stormed away before being hauled down.

Ainscough attempted to force his way over but was also held before Leak’s quick dart from acting half-back saw him dive over.

Walker converted and when Rochdale sent the kick off sailing out on the full, the Bulldogs stand off hammered over his sixth goal to seal victory.