Batley Bulldogs’ injury ravaged squad slipped to a fourth straight defeat in the Betfred Championship last Sunday as Sheffield Eagles earned victory at Fox’s Biscuits Stadium
The injury crisis gripping Matt Diskin’s side shows no signs of abaiting and there were again at least seven first choice squad members missing.
Once again, those who took to the field tried valiantly but it wasn’t enough to prevent a sixth loss in the last seven outings.
Sheffield have also been inconsistent this season and suffered defeat to bottom side Swinton Lions in their previous outing but victory at Batley saw them move four points clear of the bottom two.
The Bulldogs were celebrating the life of Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox, two years after her tragic death, and a decent crowd of 2,328 watched an entertaining encounter after the club offered free admission to supporters.
As has become a recent tradition when Sheffield visit Mount Pleasant, former Batley stalwart Ron Earnshaw was also remembered and the large crowd gave a rousing minute’s applause prior to kick off
Sheffield opened the scoring after just three minutes when Corey Makelim fed captain Matt James and the second row powered over for a try, with Cory Aston adding the first of his seven goals on an impressive day with the boot.
Batley responded down the slope and having taken play close to the line, Jason Crookes crossed from acting half-back and Dave Scott took on the kicking duties to add the goal.
St Helens dual registration centre Adam Swift set up Sheffield’s next try as he kicked through for Matty Fozard to pounce with Aston converting.
Reiss Butterworth nipped over from acting half-back after Batley had again taken play close to the line and Scott kicked his second goal.
Sheffield added a third try up the slope as Swift broke from a scrum and raced away to score at the corner, with Aston on target with an excellent goal.
Aston and Scott exchanged penalty goals in the lead up to half-time as the Eagles led 20-14.
Batley looked to hit back early in the second half and were in a promising position but Ryan Millar intercepted a pass, juggled the ball before racing the length of the pitch for a terrific try which Aston improved.
Batley eventually clicked into gear and were unfortunate to have second half tries ruled out from Lewis Galbraith and James Davey.
Davey did manage to pull a try back when he nipped over from acting half-back and Scott converted to reduce the arrears to 26-20.
Batley were threatening again but Butterworth’s pass was intercepted by Ben Blackmore, who raced away and outpaced Galbraith on a race to the line for another long range try.
Aston again converted and Sheffield had breathing space but the half-back was unable to land a penalty goal from halfway after Batley sent the kick off out on the full.
Sheffield finished strongly and Aston kicked through from a promising position but Galbraith knocked on and Jake Spedding capitalised to touch down for the Eagles sixth try.
Aston tagged on his seventh goal as Sheffield condemned Batley to a 10th defeat of the season with a tough run of matches against Middle Eight challengers Halifax, London Broncos, Leigh and leaders Toronto to follow.