Batley Bulldogs saw their hopes of reaching the Kingstone Press Championship Shield final ended as they were edged out 28-26 at home to Sheffield Eagles last Sunday.
Batley trailed 28-10 early in the second half but fought back superbly and came within a whisker as reaching the final in Toulouse this Saturday.
The match was never allowed to flow as it was littered by 28 penalties — 14 to each side — while Shaun Ainscough and Ben Blackmore were sent to the sin-bin after a seventh minute altercation.
Two minutes after the fracas, Batley took the lead when Dane Manning latched onto a short pass from acting half back Alistair Leak to storm over between the posts, with Patch Walker converting to gicve the Bulldogs a perfect start.
Sheffield hit back in the 15th minute as they moved wide for powerful centre Menzie Yere to crash over and Jack Owens landed a terrific touchline goal.
Owens edged the Eagles ahead with a penalty after Batley initially sent the kick off out on the full and then were pulled up twice more in quick successsion by referee Jack Smith.
Blackmore capitalised on Ryan Millar’s break to score out wide soon after returning from the sin-bin.
Eagles had Garry Lo sin-binned for throwing a punch at Wayne Reittie and two minutes later Batley took advantage as Sheffield knocked on and Jason Crookes gathered the loose ball before play was moved left to James Harrison to score.
Sheffield were still down to 12 men when Kyle Trout broke through a weak tackle and over for a try which Owens improved to give them an 18-10 half-time lead.
Despite playing up the slope in the second half, Sheffield stunned Batley with two quickfire tries to take a grip on the game.
Lo gathered Yere’s offload to grab an unconverted try and when Owens hacked a loose ball to the dead ball area, Lo won the race to touch down again.
Owens couldn’t convert but did land a penalty soon after before Batley mounted a comeback down the slope.
Batley’s short kick off was palmed back by Danny Cowling and Joe Chander powered his way over for a try which Walker converted.
Harrison gathered a short pass to crash over for his second try and with 18 minutes remaining, Batley tailed by just eight points.
Six minutes from full-time Batley set up a grandtsand finish when Dominic Brambani skipped over between the posts and Walker converted as the lead was cut to 28-26.
Batley attempted to force the winning try, which would have sent them to Toulouse in this weekend’s Shield final but they ran out of time as Sheffield held on to book their trip to the south of France.
The Bulldogs also had Joel Farrell sent off for an alleged shoulder charge on Will Hope in the final minute and Batley were left to rue what might of been.