Bulldogs held to draw after Oldham fight back

Batley's Manning on the charge against Oldham.
Batley's Manning on the charge against Oldham.

Batley Bulldogs were forced to settle for a share of the spoils after Oldham produced a dramatic second half fight back to snatch a 22-22 draw in the Kingstone Press Championship Shield last Sunday.

The Bulldogs controlled the first half playing down the Mount Pleasant slope and built up a healthy 22-6 lead but they were nilled after the break as Oldham fought back to earn a crucial point in their quest for survival.

Batley began superbly and raced into a 10-0 inside the opening five minutes.

The Bulldogs forced Oldham to drop out directly from the kick off and from the resulting attacking set, centre Jason Crookes crashed over for a try on the left.

Batley stormed back down the slope and Will Maher managed to wriggle free of a tackler and plant the ball down, with Patch Walker converting for a 10-0 lead.

The excellent start continued as Doninic Brambani sold a dummy, scooted through a huge gap in the Oldham defence and raced over for a try, which Walker improved.

Batley added a fourth try after 21 minutes as full-back Dave Scott was on the end of a neat passing move to score at the side of the posts and give Walker a simple conversion.

Batley had completely dominated the opening quarter and were looking to press home their advantage.

Oldham’s fightback began in the 26th minute when substitute Michael Ward crashed over shortly after coming off the bench and Luke Hooley -— who spent time on loan at Dewsbury earlier in the season before joining the Roughyeds —landed the conversion.

Joel Farrell was sin-binned for a swinging arm but the Bulldogs looked to have crossed again only to be pulled back for a knock on in the act of grounding the ball on the back of a 40-20 kick downfield.

Both sides had chances early in the second half with Batley having another try chalked off following a kick on the last tackle, while Oldham were pulled back for a forward pass when they looked to have broken through.

Oldham kicked through and Sam Gee was on hand to gather and touch down with Hooley’s conversion reducing the deficit to 22-12.

With Batley attacking, Ben Morris intercepted a pass on his own 30 metre line and stormed down the slope for a terrific individual try between the posts which Hooley converted.

Former Batley man Scott Leatherbarrow produced a dangerous kick which Adam Clay leapt to gather and score wide out as Oldham drew level but Hooley was narrowly off target with the difficult conversion attempt.

Both sides had chances to snatch victory late in the game but Dave Hewitt’s drop goal attempt rebounded off a post for the visitors while Bulldogs winger Wayne Reittie was judged to have lost the ball when stretching for the line.

The draw leaves Batley second in the Championship Shield standings, seven points behind Toulouse with four games remaining, while they are three ahead of Sheffield as the race to book a home Shield semi-final hots up.