Featherstone Rovers 26 Batley Bulldogs 12: Winning start for Rovers in Championship Shield

Featherstone head coach John Duffy.
Featherstone head coach John Duffy.

Featherstone Rovers got their Championship Shield campaign off to an ideal start with a scrappy win over Batley Bulldogs.

They didn’t have it all their own way, however, as Batley took the lead twice after a determined performance in the first 60 minutes.

But three tries in a matter of minutes turned the game on its head as Rovers took back control with 10 minutes remaining.

Both sides struggled to maintain any rhythm with a multitude of knock-ons and 15 penalties awarded in a disjointed first 40.

Rovers were forced into a few early changes as both Scott Wheeldon and Jason Walton were forced off with injury.

Walton would return but Wheeldon’s knock saw him sidelined for the rest of the afternoon.

John Davies thought he had opened the scoring on 25 minutes as he plunged on a loose ball over the whitewash but play was brought back for offside.

Featherstone had another effort disallowed just three minutes later as Shaun Robinson grounded following a kick from Anthony Thackery but he was also adjudged offside.

Five minutes later it was Batley who grabbed the first points of the game.

They were given a man advantage just moments earlier as Josh Hardcastle was sin-binned for a professional foul.

The visitors made the most of the man advantage as they worked the ball wide to Sam Smeaton who was tackled before he got his arm free to plant the ball down.

The half finished with 12 against 12 as Wayne Reittie was sin-binned for Batley.

Just before the half-time hooter, Luke Briscoe scored on his return to the Rovers’ starting line-up.

Ian Hardman took the ball and slipped his tackler before sending Briscoe over in the corner.

It took 18 minutes of the second half for the first points to arrive as the Bulldogs took back the lead.

On the last play, Louis Jouffret kicked wide to the right, Smeaton leapt to palm the ball back to Dane Manning who gathered and dived over the line.

A superb piece of individual play from Anthony Thackery drew Rovers level.

He took a bouncing ball before slicing through the Batley defence to touch down close to the posts.

Moments later the home side took the lead for the first time when Luke Cooper crashed over by the posts.

From the kick-off, Rovers increased their lead as Thackery got clear and found Hardcastle who threw it inside for Danny Maskill to run clear and score.

With the hooter gone, Cooper kicked a penalty from 20 metres to seal the win.

Featherstone Rovers: Hardman, Whylie, Taulapapa, Briscoe, Robinson, Thackeray, Wildie, Wheeldon, Maskill, Cooper, Hardcastle, Walton, Lockwood. Subs: Brooks, Knowles, Farrell, Davies.

Batley Bulldogs: Scott, Reittie, Smeaton, Galbraith, Campbell, Jouffret, Brambani, Gledhill, Leak, Rowe, Manning, Harrison, Day. Subs: Ward, Walker, Bretherton, Brown.

Referee: Matthew Rossleigh