Batley Bulldogs maintained their impressive pre-season form by toppling Championship rivals Featherstone Rovers 26-6 last Sunday.
The fixture was switched to Fox’s Biscuits Stadium and Batley officials worked hard to ensure the pitch was in excellent condition despite heavy overnight frost.
Batley made an impressive start playing down the slope and had fancied Rovers under pressure for long periods as they raced into a 22-0 interval lead.
Rovers almost took an early lead but Wayne Reittie and Shaun Ainscough were alert to produce a fine tackle on visiting winger Will Sharp.
A series of penalties put Batley on attack and Joe Chandler was on hand to cross for the opening try.
James Craven then moved play out wide for Alistair Leak to break through and round off the move with the second try, which Scott Leatherbarrow converted.
Tom Thackray, who has signed professional terms following a successful trial at Batley, almost grabbed a third Bulldogs try but dropped the ball with the line at his mercy.
A lovely Leatherbarrow kick to the in-goal area saw Johnny Campbell outpace Ben Blackmore and dive on the ball before it rolled dead, with Leatherbarrow converting the well-worked try.
Things improved further for Batley just before half-time when Reittie showed great vision to draw a defender and send Ainsough over for a fourth try. Leatherbarrow’s third goal saw the Bulldogs in complete control.
Featherstone looked to respond at the start of the season half but their efforts were hampered by the sin-binning of Nathan Chappell, for a high tackle on Leatherbarrow.
While down to 12 men the visitors did manage to pull a try back through youngster Mason Tonks, which Paul Sykes improved.
Batley responded with a terrific team try to seal victory as Leatherbarrow threw a long pass to Ainscough, who scooped it off his boot laces and beat the Rovers defence before slipping a pass to Brad Day.
The ball was moved onto Alex Bretherton, who fed Shaun Squires and he gave Leak chance to beat off Sharp’s attempted effort to grab his second try of the match.
It capped an impressive all-round display by the Bulldogs and with three weeks remaining until the start of the new Championship season, there is real optimism and confidence among John Kear’s squad.