Bulldogs slip to Rovers defeat

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Batley Bulldogs suffered a disappointing 32-6 defeat at home to Featherstone Rovers in the Kingstone Press Championship.

Batley dominated the opening stages but were unable to unlock a solid Rovers defence when playing down the slope.

Featherstone weathered early Bulldogs pressure and then responded in style to build a 14-0 interval lead.

Batley were assisted by several early penalties, while Rovers saw Michael Knowles sin-binned for punching in a tackle.

Batley piled on the pressure but dropped ball or poor decision making meant they were unable to break the deadlock.

Featherstone then scored from their first meaningful attack as a penalty put them in a good field position.

Anthony Thackeray fed Brad Tagg and he broke through before sending the supporting Ian Hardman racing over for an unconverted try as Ash Handley pulled his conversion attempt wide.

Having returned from the sin-bin, Knowles hammered over a 25th minute penalty and was on target again when Batley indiscipline offered him another opportunity.

Featherstone then scored a decisive try just before half-time when Luke Briscoe produced a terrific break up the right wing before slipping a pass inside to Hardman and the full-back raced over and behind the posts for his second try.

Knowles converted and Rovers led 14-0 with the advantage of playing down the slope after the break.

Frankie Mariano was held inches short of the line soon after the re-start and when Rovers moved quickly left, Briscoe was taken into touch short of the line.

Rovers attacked again and former Batley man Chris Ulugia sent Hardman over wide on the right, with Knowles adding a towering touchline goal.

Batley briefly threatened a fightback as Shaun Ainscough did superbly well to keep the ball alive wide on the left.

Batley moved play inside and Dominic Brambani broke through the defence and had the power to hold off two tacklers and score between the posts on his 300th career appearance. Patch Walker converted.

Batley stormed back up the slope but were again denied by the defence before Rovers took the sting out of the game with another Knowles penalty.

Briscoe latched onto a superb long pass to storm over for Featherstone’s fourth try wide out but Knowles was off target with the conversion attempt for the first time in the match.

Keal Carlile capped an impressive game for Rovers when he crashed over between the posts and Knowles converted as Featherstone maintained their 100 per cent start to the season.

Batley Bulldogs: Scott; Reittie, Smeaton, Hallett, Ainscough; Walker, Brambani; Lillycrop, Leak, Brown, Manning, Bretherton, Day. Subs: Davey, Maher, Chandler, Rowe.

Featherstone Rovers: Hardman; Briscoe, Walton, Ulugia, Handley; Thackeray, Wildie; Bostock, Carlile, Baldwinson, Knowles, Davies, Tagg. Subs: Briggs, Hardcastle, Mariano, Moore.

Referee: Gareth Hewer (Whitehaven).

Attendance: 1,385.