First half effort not enough to prevent defeat for Bulldogs

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Batley Bulldogs produced an impressive first half display but it wasn’t enough to prevent a 40-12 defeat against clinical Sheffield Eagles.

The Bulldogs deservedly led 12-0 after 35 minutes before Sheffield ran in 40 unanswered points.

However, the main talking point of the game was the performance of referee Matt Woodhead, who awarded a staggering 24 penalties - a rate in excess of one every four minutes.

Batley started well and deservedly led after 11 minutes when play was moved to Lee Mitchell, who drove to the line and managed to plant the ball down for an unconverted try.

Scrum half Scott Leatherbarrow fed Shaun Ainscough who charged for the line and stretched over for a 21st minute try, which Leatherbarrow converted.

Ainscough broke away soon after but was unable to get a pass away to supporting players as Batley again opened the Sheffield defence up.

Leatherbarrow slotted over a 31st minute penalty and Batley were good value for their 12-0 lead.

The game swung in the build up to half-time as Wayne Reittie leapt to gather an Eagles kick but was harshly judged to have knocked on by Mr Woodhead.

Sheffield were awarded a penalty and Menzie Yere barged over to score.

The powerhouse centre then handed off two Bulldogs defenders to crash over on the stroke of half-time and Kyle Briggs converted to narrow the gap to two points.

Sheffield showed their clinical ability after the break and went ahead three minutes after the restart when Quentin Laula Tongagae sent centre Sam Smeaton storming over and Briggs goaled.

Tongagae’s short pass to the blindside put substitute John Davies over and Briggs landed a towering touchline goal as the Eagles led 22-12.

Yere latched onto a pass to raced over for his hat-trick try and 153rd in total for the Eagles, with Briggs converting.

Brambani’s lovely offload sent Tongagae racing to the line for Sheffield’s sixth try, which Briggs converted.

Sheffield completed their win with a fifth unanswered second half try a minute from time when Misi Taulapapa crossed in the right corner and Brambani landed the touchline goal to round of a comfortable win for Mark Aston’s men.

Batley Bulldogs: Ainscough; Reittie, Cosgrove, Hey, A Brown; Mitchell, Leatherbarrow; Hirst, Fozard, Rowe, Scott, Day, Chandler. Subs: Hesketh, Leak, Lillycrop, J Brown.

Sheffield Eagles: Laula Tongagae; Turner, Yere, Smeaton, Worrincy; Briggs, Bambani; Thorpe, Carlile, Stringer, Knowles, Straughier, Taulapapa. Subs: Battye, Davey, Davies, Peterson.

Referee: Matt Woodhead.

Attendance: 525