Sensational come back sees Bulldogs snatch dramatic win

Tom Lillycrop's late try helped Batley Bulldogs complete a dramatic late come back against Rochdale.
Tom Lillycrop's late try helped Batley Bulldogs complete a dramatic late come back against Rochdale.

Batley Bulldogs produced a sensational comeback to grab a dramatic victory over Rochdale Hornets.

The Bulldogs trailed 36-22 with just six minutes remaining but scored three late tries to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Matthew Hadden was sin-binned for holding down Shaun Ainscough following a break downfield as Rochdale were reduced to 12 men for a second time in the game.

From the resulting penalty, Batley moved play left and a long pass out wide sent Ainscough over for a try which gave the Bulldogs a glimmer of hope.

Back to back penalties put Batley back on attack and Ainscough dived over for his second try in as many minutes.

Dominic Brambani had converted just one of Batley’s six tries but landed a towering touchline goal to reduce the deficit to four points.

With just two minutes remaining, Brambani broke through and managed to get a pass away to Tom Lillycrop, who stormed to the line and carried a defender over to plant the ball down.

Brambani held his nerve to land the conversion and edge the Bulldogs ahead.

Rochdale won the ball back from the kick off and moved play left but Lewis Galbraith was tackled into touch short of the line as Batley sealed victory.

Rochdale had dominated for long periods as they built a commanding lead before the late comeback.

Winger Robert Massam opened the scoring after 10 minutes when he forced his way over in the left corner and Harvey Livett landed a cracking touchline goal.

Jovilisa Taira looked to have forced his way over but was held up before Rochdale moved play right, creating space for Livett to score.

Livett’s long pass sent Jake Eccleston racing away and he slipped the ball back inside for Benjamin Jullien to complete the move, with Livett converting to put Rochdale 16-0 up after 17 minutes.

Rochdale’s indiscipline began to let them down and Batley capitalised after being awarded four penalties in quick succession as Macauley Hallett surged over in the left corner.

Rochdale responded immediately with Galbraith scoring wide out and Livett kicked another excellent goal.

Rochdale were put on a team warning after conceding an eighth penalty of the first half and Batley moved right for Sam Smeaton to stretch over and score.

Jonathan Smith was sin-binned for a high tackle soon after and Brambani produced a lovely chip over the defence for Hallett to gather and score in the corner.

Brambani missed his third conversion attempt and Batley went into the break trailing 22-12 but had the advantage of playing down the slope in the second half.

Rochdale were still down to 12 men when Ben Moores stabbed the ball through and Hadden gathered to score.

Livett converted and then added a penalty after Batley prop James Brown was sin-binned for a high tackle on Gary Middlehurst as the visitors led 30-12.

Full back Jack Johnson broke through a static defence and raced up the slope to score Rochdale’s sixth try and Livett converted.

With the game seemingly lost, some Batley supporters left early but they missed a stunning Bulldogs fightback.

Smeaton capitalised on Batley pressure with his second try wide on the right but Brambani was off target with the conversion.

Will Maher then proved unstoppable when he surged over from 10 metres out and Brambani landed his first goal at the fifth attempt.

It appeared Rochdale had done enough to close the game out but Hadden’s sin binning allowed Batley to get on a roll and snatch victory with three late tries.

Batley Bulldogs: Hayward; Reittie, Smeaton, Hallett, Ainsough; Holmes, Brambani; Rowe, Leak, Maher, Day, Harrison, Chandler. Subs: Davey, Lillycrop, Brown, Hill.

Rochdale Hornets: Johnson; Eccleston, Jullien, Galbraith, Massam; Livett, Yates; Taira, Maneely, Bennion, Smith, Savelio, Middlehurst. Subs: Moores, Tahraoui, Hadden, Case.

Referee: Callum Straw.

Attendance: 718.