Bulldogs bid for top four suffers blow with Rovers defeat

Batley's Joe Chandler hands off Featherstone's James Cording.
Batley's Joe Chandler hands off Featherstone's James Cording.

Batley Bulldogs hopes of securing a top four finish in the Kingstone Press Championship suffered a blow with a 34-6 defeat to Featherstone last Sunday.

Rovers knew only victory would keep alive their own hopes of making the lucrative middle eights stage of the competition and they inflicted Batley’s heaviest league defeat of the season.

All is not lost for John Kear’s men, who still occupy fourth spot, and know victories in their final two matches of the regular season will be enough to progress.

Featherstone led 10-0 at half-time having played up the Mount Pleasant slope, although they also had to weather severe Bulldogs pressure.

Rovers then took full advantage after the break as they ran in two converted tries in the space of five minutes straight after the -restart.

Further converted tries after 49 and 52 minutes saw Rovers extend their lead to 34-0 before Batley grabbed a late consolation try.

Kyle Briggs kicked Rovers into a fifth minute lead with a penalty goal before the visitors bagged their first of five tries when Andy Bostock forced his way over from close range, with Briggs converting.

Batley responded well, piling on the pressure and creating several scoring chances but found no way through a tight Rovers defence.

Featherstone went close to extending their lead when neat play by Bostock almost created a second try.

Winger Ashton Goulding also went close for Featherstone before Briggs landed a second penalty as Featherstone led 10-0 at the interval.

Batley needed a quick start to the second half but it was Rovers who extended their lead within a minute of the restart as Briggs crossed and added the goal. Second row forward John Davies then broke through and found full-back Ian Hardman in support to round off the move and a fifth Briggs goal extended the lead to 22-0.

Batley were finding it difficult to hit back and Goulding added a third try in nine second half minutes, with Briggs again converting.

Anthony Thackeray’s towering kick allowed Michael Channing to collect and score and Briggs was again on target with the conversion as Rovers led 34-0.

Batley’s defence tightened up to prevent further scores and the Bulldogs were rewarded with a consolation try from Chris Ulugia two minutes from full-time, which Pat Walker improved.

This was only Batley’s second league defeat in the last nine matches but they must regroup quickly as they face a crucial clash against full-timers London Broncos in their final home match on Sunday.