Batley edged out by Halifax

Johnny Campbell had four scoring chances in the first half for BAtley Bulldogs.
Johnny Campbell had four scoring chances in the first half for BAtley Bulldogs.

Batley Bulldogs slipped to their first defeat in the Kingstone Press Championship, as they were edged out 6-2 at home to Halifax.

The weather wasn’t conducive to playing free-flowing rugby, with the forwards involved in a slog and defences on top throughout.

Batley created four excellent first half chances but were unable to capitalised and Halifax scored the game’s only try from the Bulldogs only defensive lapse of the entire 80 minutes.

It was a tense tussle between two determined sides but handling errors early on prevented either from taking a grip on the game.

A hefty penalty count, of 13-6 against the Bulldogs, did not help the home side’s cause as they were starved of possession for long periods, especially in the second half.

The first real chance came after 13 minutes when Batley, playing up the Mount Pleasant slope, moved play left and Shaun Squires chipped to the in-goal area.

Winger Johnny Campbell appeared to be obstructed as he attempted to win the race to touch down but no penalty was awarded.

Keegan Hirst was introduced from the bench for his first game following a foot injury and he had an immediate impact, driving Batley forward.

Hirst set up a great Batley field position and as they moved left again, Squires looked to have put Campbell over in the corner but referee Joe Cobb had spotted an infringement in the build up and Fax were awarded the penalty.

A crunching James Brown tackle forced Halifax to spill possession and Squires chipped left from the free play but Campbell was unable to gather the bouncing ball inches from the try line.

Batley attacked once more and Cain Southernwood’s long pass gave Campbell another excellent chance to score but the pass was judged forward.

Play was brought back for an earlier Fax infringement and Scott Leatherbarrow landed the resulting penalty goal to put Batley 2-0 ahead after 34 minutes.

Halifax’s response was immediate as they launched an attack of their own and stand-off Matt Place stormed through a gap in the Bulldogs defence and over for a try which Steve Tyrer converted.

Despite trailing 6-2 at the break there was high hopes for the Bulldogs, who had the slope advantage in the second half.

Batley were stifled of possession for long periods, as they were on the wrong end of a 6-2 penalty count in a second half of few clear cut chances.

The key moment came just two minutes from full-time when Batley kicked through and Wayne Reittie challenged Fax full-back Miles Greenwood.

The ball came loose and, with no cover defence, Batley appeared to have a clear run to the line but referee Cobb ruled that Reittie had fouled Greenwood and awarded Fax a penalty.

Two further Halifax penalties took them upfield and Tyrer had chance to put his side out of reach.

As the hooter sounded, Tyrer knew his side had victory in the bag and although his attempt was wide, crucially the ball went dead as Halifax celebrated victory.

Batley Bulldogs: Craven; Reittie, Faal, Squires, Campbell; Southernwood, Leatherbarrow; Rowe, Leak, Lillycrop, Bretherton, Mitchell, Chandler. Subs: Nicholson, Blake, Hirst, Brown.

Halifax: Greenwood; Saxton, Taylor, Tyrer, Saltonstall; PLace, Murrell; Cahalane, Kaye, Ambler, Robinson, Manning, Bracek. Subs: Tangata, Moore, Manneley, Fairbank.

Referee: Joe Cobb.

Attendance: 1,113.