Batley Bulldogs head coach Craig Lingard felt that Featherstone Rovers half-back Dane Chisholm was the key difference as he his side suffered defeat in their opening game of the 2020 campaign.
The French international scored 22 of the visitors’ points at Mount Pleasant on Sunday afternoon as Batley lost their eighth consecutive game against Featherstone.
The Bulldogs showed plenty of spirit however, and Lingard feels that Rovers’ decision to kick a penalty on 65 minutes highlighted the competitive nature of the match.
Chisholm’s successful kick at goal put eight points between the sides before late scores from Josh Hardcastle and former forward James Harrison put a gloss on the result for the visitors.
“I was really pleased with the effort of the boys today, certainly for the first 60 minutes of the game,” said Lingard.
“There was a 15 to 20 minute period in the second half when we had a little bit of a lull.
“But, I think the effort the guys put in and to push a top-quality Featherstone team so close; we conceded a couple of late tries trying to chase the game a bit and it gave the scoreline a bit of a one-sided look. I don’t think it was.
"You could see how concerned Featherstone were when they took the two to make it eight points.
“It is disappointing to lose the game but there are a lot more positives than negatives to take out of it.”
The visitors hit the front at Mount Pleasant when Craig Hall found Greg Worthington with an offload after 14 minutes.
Batley responded through Lewis Galbraith as the centre pounced on a loose ball to help bring the home side level.
The Bulldogs then took the lead when Alistair Leak broke down the middle just before the half hour.
Leeds Rhinos dual-reg duo Luke Briscoe and Callum McLelland combined to score Rovers’ second try as McLelland spun a pass out to Briscoe who finished brilliantly in the corner.
Chisholm scored his first try of the game when he gathered a loose ball and sprinted the length of the field soon after the second-half restart.
He grabbed another minutes later when he dummied past a defender before grounding.
However, the Bulldogs weren’t out if it yet. After some pressure, the home side hit back when Lucas Walshaw burst through a gap to plant down.
Chisholm added a penalty to put Featherstone eight points ahead before the late tries sealed victory for Rovers.
Lingard added: “We knew we were going to have to be squeaky clean in everything that we did.
“The first half was really good. Everything we had to do, had to be at our top level to push Featherstone as close as possible. That first 40 minutes we matched them set for set, tackle for tackle and play for play.
“To come in at 12-12 was just rewards for the players for the effort they put in.
“We started the second half well and it was just a kick that went wayward and Dane Chisholm picks up and goes 90 metres.
“That knocks the wind out of your sails and I think that Dane Chisholm was the difference between the two sides today.”