Bulldogs let victory slip from grasp

Batley's Alex Rowe is tackled by Feathersone defenders Tim Spears and Andy Bostock. Pictures: Paul Butterfield
Batley's Alex Rowe is tackled by Feathersone defenders Tim Spears and Andy Bostock. Pictures: Paul Butterfield

Batley Bulldogs surrendered a 16-point lead as Featherstone Rovers struck late to secure a 23-16 victory in the Kingstone Press Championship.

Batley appeared on course to become the first team this season to deny Rovers winning points on the road when Cain Southerwood slotted over a penalty to put them 16-0 ahead.

Rovers battled back down the slope but Batley’s defence remained solid until the 55th minute.

Paul Sykes produced a long pass to send winger Ben Blackmore over for a try which Gareth Moore converted.

From Featherstone’s next attack, Jy Hiscox and Ian Hardman combined to put Blackmore over for his second try to reduce the deficit to six points.

Rovers stellar signing Reni Maitua made a huge impact on debut after visa problems delayed his arrival.

The second row met Moore’s pass at pace to storm over for Featherstone’s third try after 67 minutes and Moore’s conversion levelled matters to set up a grandstand finish.

Rovers had the impetus and stormed down the Mount Pleasant slope as Moore was off target with a drop goal attempt.

Two minutes from time, Rovers struck the decisive blow as Maitua sent a long pass that centre Thomas Minns flicked on to winger Will Sharp and he raced in at the corner.

Moore converted and ensured there would be no dramatic fightback by Batley when he landed a last minute drop goal.

The comeback was in stark contrast to the first half, which saw Batley dominate playing down the slope.

It took the Bulldogs just three minutes to open the scoring when hooker Matty Fozard forced his way over from acting half-back and Southernwood converted.

Batley piled on the pressure and were rewarded when Sam Scott forced his way over for an unconverted try.

Batley again capitalised on further pressure when Shaun Squires sent winger Shaun Ainscough over for their third try on the half hour and it remained 14-0 at half-time.

There appeared no sign of the late drama when Southernwood slotted over a penalty early in the second half after Rovers were caught offside at a drop-out.

However, these proved the only points of the match from a side playing up the slope as Rovers struck with 23 unanswered points in the final 25 minutes to snatch victory.