Halifax Panthers 10 Batley Bulldogs 12: Bulldogs secure home play-off tie with Bradford Bulls
Batley Bulldogs ended their regular season with a hard-fought win at Halifax Panthers to leapfrog Bradford Bulls into fourth and secure a home tie in the Championship play-offs.
Craig Lingard's men will face the Bulls at the Fox's Biscuits Stadium on Saturday after leaving the Shay with a 12-10 success to avenge their earlier league defeat to the Panthers.
All of Batley’s points came in the last 13 minutes of the first half as Craig Lingard’s side ended a successful season on a high.
Results elsewhere made sure that Halifax kept their third-place finish. However, Simon Grix’s men will be going into the final stage of the season in poor form having recorded their third successive loss.
The Panthers started with intent and forced the visitors into two early goal line drop outs. The hosts didn’t score any points from that early spell of pressure but it was certainly a good start for an out-of-form side.
Batley managed to hold out for the first ten minutes but as Halifax continued to attack, the door eventually snapped opened.
A quick move down the left saw Gregg Worthington release James Saltonstall. The club’s leading try-scorer didn’t disappoint as he charged forward and crossed the whitewash to make it 4-0. Connor Robinson missed the following conversion.
Halifax continued their attack and forced a third goal line drop out just two minutes after the opening effort.
Batley eventually found their feet and also began to threaten. Halifax were able to keep the Bulldogs at bay but only until the half-hour mark.
The hosts conceded a penalty deep in their own half – allowing Batley to turn up the heat. Craig Lingard’s men took full advantage of the extra set as Lucas Walshaw got over the line to make it 4-4.
Tom Gilmore, who assisted the try, added two more points from the boot as the visitors moved ahead for the first time in the match.
The Bulldogs now had momentum as they pushed for more points. Halifax managed to keep them out until the last play of the opening half which saw Jonny Campbell crash over for the try.
The effort came on the back of a Halifax goal line drop out which the Bulldogs worked to perfection. Campbell was on the end of a looping pass and went over unopposed.
Gilmore added two more points as Batley went into the break leading 12-4. Whatever Simon Grix said at the break certainly had a big impact as the Panthers came out firing.
Just five minutes into the second half, Conor McGrath went over to close the gap. Ed Barber’s ball steal put the Panthers in a great position and allowed them to work the ball out to Zack McComb. He then found McGrath who crossed the whitewash down the right-hand side.
Robinson added two more points with his kick to make it 12-10 with 35 minutes still on the clock. Despite having a lot of time to play with, Halifax couldn’t get another effort on the board.
Both teams traded fierce sets but in the end, it was Batley who went home with a momentum-building victory.