Batley Bulldogs produced a brave performance but it wasn’t enough to prevent them slipping to a 34-16 defeat at Bradford Bulls last Sunday.
The contrast in fortunes of the two teams saw Batley slip to an eighth straight defeat, while Bradford’s 17th win on the bounce saw them move above Leigh to top the Kingstone Press Championship for the first time this season.
However, Batley produced a display that belied their lowly league standing and pushed Bradford for much of the game.
The sending off of former Bulls favourite Shaun Ainscough after 66 minutes proved crucial and ended Batley’s hope of producing a shock win.
John Kear’s Bulldogs started superbly and, led by half-backs Cain Southernwood and Scott Leatherbarrow, they caused Bradford problems.
Batley took a fourth minute lead when Southernwood kicked left and winger Alex Brown leapt above the Bulls defence, gathered and planted the ball down.
Leatherbarrow converted and Batley had made the perfect start.
Bradford hit back but it took a piece of good fortune for them to level.
As Leatherbarrow attempted to clear Danny Addy’s dangerous kick through, the ball rattled the crossbar and rebounded for Jay Pitts to score. Ryan Shaw converted.
Batley continued to pressure the Bulls and only a Dale Ferguson interception prevented the visitors from regaining the lead.
Addy broke and sent James Mendeika racing to the line, with Shaw converting, while Bradford centre Adam Henry added a quickfire brace as the Bulls took control.
Batley responded well as winger Wayne Reittie produced a diagonal run, outpacing the defence to score and reduce the half-time arrears to 20-10.
Batley kept Bradford in check in the early part of the second half but Ainscough lashed out at Shaw and was initially sin-binned only to be shown a red card having shown dissent to referee Jamie Bloem.
Danny Williams eased Bradford’s nerves with an unconverted try soon after the sending off but Alex Rowe barged his way to the line as Batley refused to lie down and Leatherbarrow converted to reduce the arrears to 24-16.
But Batley’s brave effort was ended as Matty Blythe bagged a brace of tries in the final six minutes, the latter goaled by Shaw as Bradford moved top of the table.