Bulldogs record sixth straight win to complete season in style
Batley Bulldogs rounded off their Betfred Championship season in style as they recorded a sixth straight win in the Shield against Swinton Lions.
The day gave Batley supporters chance say goodbye to several players, with fans favourite Alex Rowe one player confirmed to be leaving as he joins League One side Newcastle.
Rowe was given a parting gift when he was allowed to take the conversion to Dominic Brambani’s last minute try.
While Batley celebrated ending the season in style, Swinton left the field dejected and moments after the final hooter sounded, they were confirmed as finishing bottom of the table after news filtered through that Rochdale had won away to Sheffield Eagles to climb above the Lions and confirm their Championship status for next season.
Batley led after six minutes as they took play close to the line, playing up the slope, and acting half-back Alistair Leak fed Adam Gledhill, who barged his way through and dived over for the opening try, with Dave Scott tagging on the conversion.
Swinton knew only a win would guarantee their survival and they hit back after 15 minutes when prop Aaron Hall forced his way over for his second try of the season — both of which were scored at Mount Pleasant — and Jack Hansen converted.
Both sides had further scoring chances as Batley created an overlap wide out but the final pass was deemed forward, while at the other end, Jack Hansen spotted a gap only for the ball to be lost close to the line.
Batley regained the lead with a 33rd minute try as Louis Jouffret kicked over and a Lions defender made a hash of gathering the ball, which was scooped up by Sam Smeaton to score.
Patch Walker took over the kicking duties and landed the goal.
Batley turned round leading 12-6 but they clicked into gear playing down the slope to run in 28 unanswered points.
They took just five minutes to extend their lead when Brambani produced a lovely offload to send winger Wayne Reittie over wide out.
Batley then produced a length of the field move to score their fourth try.
Jouffret broke from his own try line and found the supporting Scott on the inside and the full-back raced the remainder of the field to score, with Walker converting.
The Bulldogs scored a third try in the space of nine minutes to kill off any hopes of a Swinton fight back.
They attacked on the back of a penalty and the impressive Jouffret sliced through the Lions defence to score, with Walker again adding the goal.
Batley were producing some excellent attacking rugby and went close again on the hour mark only to lose the ball inches from the try line.
The Bulldogs looked to have scored a sixth try when Scott was sent racing over only for play to be brought back for a forward pass.
Batley maintained the pressure and were rewarded with a further two tries in the final four minutes.
Scott broke down the right and slipped the ball inside for Jouffret to canter over for his second try, which Walker improved as he moved to within four points of topping 500 for the club.
The final minute saw Batley round off another excellent display as Reittie broke down the right before sending Brambani over for a try between the posts to celebrate his 350th career appearance in style.
With full-time approaching, Rowe was handed the chance to land the conversion on his final appearance for the club.
It completed a very satisfactory end to the campaign for Matt Diskin’s men, who will look to build on a terrific end to the season in 2019.
Swinton must now face a play-off game against the losers of this week’s promotion showdown between Bradford Bulls and Workington for the right to stay in the Championship.