Last-minute score leaves Kear fuming

Keegan Hirst clashes with Whitehaven's Scott McAvoy during Bulldogs' disappointing loss. Pic: Paul Butterfield.
Keegan Hirst clashes with Whitehaven's Scott McAvoy during Bulldogs' disappointing loss. Pic: Paul Butterfield.

Batley Bulldogs boss John Kear slammed his side’s lack of composure and desire as they suffered a last-gasp 24-22 defeat to Whitehaven on Sunday.

The hosts at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium looked to be cruising to the points with 13 minutes of the Kingstone Press Championship clash remaining but two scores, including a last-minute converted try, turned the game in Whitehaven’s favour.

The clash proved to be a scrappy, end-to-end encounter and the lead changed hands six times as both sides were guilty of making costly errors.

The Bulldogs, playing up the slope in the first half, started brightly and following a number of raids forward, full-back James Craven latched onto Alistair Leak’s slick pass to crash over with 11 minutes gone.

Whitehaven took the lead midway through the half when Declan Hulme, on dual registration from Widnes Vikings, charged over for a converted score.

A poor kick from the visitors allowed Batley to hit back five minutes later and Shaun Ainscough pounced on the loose ball before sending Craven over for his second, converted by Scott Leatherbarrow.

Craven’s feat was matched six minutes later by Hulme, who bagged his second to restore the visitors’ two-point advantage.

Kear’s men were given a boost just before the break however and Leatherbarrow finished-off Sean Hesketh’s break for a self-improved try that put Batley 16-12 up at the interval.

The home side added to their tally four minutes into the second period, Lee Mitchell taking advantage of another loss of possession from Whitehaven to touch-down. Leatherbarrow’s successful goal put Bulldogs 22-12 up and in control.

With the slope in their favour, Bulldogs had the opportunities to put the game to bed, only to be thwarted by poor passing.

That wastefulness was punished on 67 minutes when substitute James Newton powered over for a six-pointer that cut the deficit to just four points.

The home side continued to hand possession back to the visitors in a nervy finish and in the last minute, Sam Brooks charged over the whitewash. Grant Gore held his nerve to land his second conversion that secured an unlikely win for the Cumbrians.

Batley Bulldogs: Craven; Reittie, Squires, Hey, Ainscough; Leatherbarrow, Leak; Hirst, Blake, Rowe, Scott, Mitchell, Chandler.

Subs: Hesketh, Fozard, Lillycrop, Brown.

Tries: Craven (2), Leatherbarrow, Mitchell.

Goals: Leatherbarrow 3/4.

Whitehaven: Lepori; Holliday, Lloyd, Hulme, Calvert; Aiye, Brocklebank; Davies, Gore, Walker, McAvoy, Hepi, Allen.

Subs: Newton, Fox, Brooks, Beaumont.

Tries: Hulme (2), Newton, Brooks.

Goals: Brocklebank 2/2; Gore 2/2.

Penalty count: 10-3

Attendance: 560.

Referee: Jamie Bloem.