Bulldogs strike late to seal fine win over Bulls

Alex Bretherton plunges over for the Bulldogs first try against Bradford.
Alex Bretherton plunges over for the Bulldogs first try against Bradford.

Batley Bulldogs twice came from behind to secure a 23-16 victory over Bradford Bulls in their final home game of the regular Kingstone Press Championship campaign.

Victory should be enough to secure a sixth place finish for Matt Diskin’s men and they are building momentum nicely ahead of a tilt at the Championship Shield having won five of their last six matches.

For the Bulls, they have now lost 12 of their last 13 matches and are staring League One firmly in the face as they are 11 points off safety with eight matches remaining.

Bradford struck first as they capitalised on a Bulldogs error to take a sixth minute lead.

Dave Scott’s pass to Sam Smeaton was dropped and Bulls scrum half James Keyes scooped up the loose ball and raced 70 metres down the slope to score, although Oscar Thomas was unable to add the extras.

Bradford tried to press home their advantage of playing down hill in the first half but found the Bulldogs defence difficult to break down.

Batley responded to level matters as they set up an attack having forced Thomas into touch 10 metres from his own try line.

Batley spread the ball left and Alex Bretherton had the strength to force his way over but Patch Walker scuffed his conversion attempt as it remained 4-4.

The first half remained a scrappy affair with the best chance falling to Bradford but Cory Aston lost the ball when diving for the try line and Batley went into the break having again defended the slope well.

However, the Bulldogs were again forced to come from behind as Bradford struck nine minutes after the re-start.

James Bentley kicked forward on the last tackle and the ball was allowed to bounce with Johnny Campbell palming it back for Ed Chamberlain to gather and score and Thomas converted.

Batley were behind for just seven minutes as they again moved play left and Walker nipped through a gap and had the strength to hold off two defenders to plant the ball down before landing the conversion to level.

Batley hit the front for the first time on the hour mark as Joel Farrell drove the Bulldogs into a good position before Dave Scott skipped through the defence and over for a try on the very next play, with Walker converting.

Bradford set up a cracking finish with a brilliant 66th minute try which started when former Batley man Campbell was sent racing down the left touchline and he put the supporting Illies Macani over to complete the movefor the try, which Thomas converted.

The game breaker came six minutes from time when James Brown sent Bretherton racing clear and he fed Shaun Ainsough who in turn put Scott over his his second try, which Walker improved.

Domionic Brambani’s last minute drop goal, which went over off a post sealed victory for the Bulldogs, which all but confirms a sixth place finish.