Bulldogs push leaders Toronto close with terrific display

Wayne Reittie scored a spectacular individual try but dislocated his shoulder in the process.
Wayne Reittie scored a spectacular individual try but dislocated his shoulder in the process.

Batley Bulldogs produced a terrific effort as they came close to pulling off an upset against Betfred Championship leaders Toronto Wolfpack.

The Bulldogs deservedly led 12-6 at half-time having produced some of their best rugby of the season but eventually slipped to a 26-18 defeat against the big spending Canadian outfit.

The Bulldogs were brilliantly led by a huge effort from their pack with props Alex Rowe and Tommy Holland driving them forward in the early stages.

Toronto struck with an eighth minute try as Liam Kay burst up the left touchline but was brilliantly hauled down short by full-back Dave Scott.

Toronto moved play back to the left two tackles later and stand-off Josh McCrone stretched over a try which Ryan Brierley converted.

Batley hit back immediately as Toronto knocked on from the kick off and they mounted a sustained spell of pressure.

Toronto were twice penalised, while Alistair Leak was held inches short following a quick dart from acting half back.

The pressure eventually told as Patch Walker produced a neat kick to the in goal area and James Harrison pounced to score, with Walker converting.

Batley stormed back down the slope on the back of a fine break by Scott and Sam Smeaton fed winger Wayne Reittie but he was stopped short on the last tackle.

Walker, Dominic Brambani and Scott then linked to feed Reittie only for the Bulldogs to be pulled back for a forward pass.

Batley struck with a terrific individual try in the final seconds of the first half.

Reittie intercepted a Toronto pass and juggled the ball before racing down field and he outpaced Kay and Brierley on a superb 80 metre run to the line.

Reittie dived over for a spectacular try but was injured in the process and received lengthy treatment in the right corner as the hooter sounded.

Walker landed a superb touchline goal and the Bulldogs left the field to a standing ovation before Reittie was helped from the field during the interval with a dislocated shoulder.

Batley were starved of possession for long periods of the second half and were felt aggrieved at several key decisions going against them, which handed Toronto a lifeline.

McCrone and Gareth O’Brien linked to provide an early chance for Greg Worthington but he was stopped short by excellent Batley defence.

Full-back O’Brien went on to turn the game with an 11-minute hat-trick.

Batley were judged to have knocked on and when they spoke out of turn it allowed Toronto to launch a penalty downfield and O’Brien spun out of a tackle and over to score.

Brierley was unable to convert but just three minutes later Toronto took the lead as they were awarded another penalty and O’Brien sold a dummy and raced over for an unconverted try.

O’Brien gathered Brierley’s pass and had the strength to hold off a defender and complete his hat-trick in the 62nd minute and Brierley converted to put Toronto 20-12 ahead.

Batley went close to pulling a try back as Jason Crookes cut inside but was tackled short before Batley moved right and Smeaton stabbed the ball forward only for the Wolfpack defence to cover the danger.

Batley were again penalised as Toronto came away from their own line and they swiftly counter attacked with Jack Bussey crossing for their fifth try of the afternoon, which Brierley converted.

Despite slipping to defeat, Batley battled on and were rewarded with a last minute consolation try.

Toronto had Sam Hopkins sin-binned for lifting in a tackle and Batley mounted a final attack.

Michael Ward bounced off a tackle and did well to keep the ball alive as they moved left for Brad Day top race through and over for a try, which Walker converted from the touchline with the last kick of the game.

Batley Bulldogs: Scott; Reittie, Smeaton, Galbraith, Crookes; Walker, Brambani; Holland, Leak, Rowe, Harrison, Day, J Farrell. Subs: Davey, Brown, Manning, Ward.

Toronto Wolfpack: O’Brien; Pownall, Stanley, Worthington, Kay; Brierley, Emmitt; Ackers, Sims, Bussey, Whiting, Buchanan. Subs: Maitua, Sidlow, Hopkins, Wallace.

Referee: Tom Grant.

Attendance: 1,151.