Batley push high-flying Halifax close

Batley Bulldogs attempt to set up an attack during Sunday's Kingstone Press Championship clash at Halifax.
Batley Bulldogs attempt to set up an attack during Sunday's Kingstone Press Championship clash at Halifax.

Batley Bulldogs produced a grandstand finish to give Halifax a real scare before being edged out 25-22 in a thriller at The Shay last Sunday.

Defeat leaves Batley 10th in the Kingstone Press Championship ahead of Sunday’s visit of second-bottom Hunslet Hawks.

Many Bulldogs supporters would have travelled fearing the worst as they came up against a Fax side brimming with confidence after winning their last six matches.

Batley trailed 24-6 inside the final quarter before Wayne Reittie sparked a terrific fightback.

With Halifax attacking, Reittie intercepted a pass and raced away to score a terrific try, which Scott Leatherbarrow converted.

Prop Keegan Hirst then drove to the line for Batley’s third try and another Leatherbarrow conversion gave the travelling support real hope.

Halifax captain Scott Murrell tagged on a drop goal to give his side a seven-point lead, before Reittie’s second try left the home side hanging on for the final minute.

The opening quarter had been a nip and tuck affair, with Batley hanging on early on, not helped by a hefty penalty count against them.

Although James Saltonstall and Mitch Cahalane had chances, Batley kept their line intact and it remained scoreless until the 33rd minute.

The deadlock was finally broken when young half back Ben Johnston wriggled free from two Batley tacklers and ran behind the posts to give Steve Tyrer a simple conversion.

Halifax piled on the pressure and added a second try before the break.

Murrell’s lovely kick was palmed back inside by Tyrer and the ball was eventually worked back inside for Adam Robinson to dive between the posts. Tyrer converted.

Batley dragged themselves back into the game with a James Day try five minutes into the second half, which Leatherbarrow improved.

Halifax then took charge as James Saltonstall touched down and Johnston appeared to have ended Batley’s hopes with the home side’s fourth try soon after, both of which were converted by Tyrer as Fax led 24-6.

Reittie’s interception try sparked a terrific Bulldogs fightback which ended agonisingly short.

Batley still face a fight against relegation but on this evidence they have the ability to pull away from danger when they compete in the middle eights of the Championship in August and September.