Super Bulldogs turn on style to inflict defeat on Centurions

French half-back Louis Jouffret produced another brilliant performance as Batley Bulldogs inflicted defeat on second placed Leigh last Sunday
French half-back Louis Jouffret produced another brilliant performance as Batley Bulldogs inflicted defeat on second placed Leigh last Sunday

Batley Bulldogs produced a terrific away performance to defeat second placed Leigh Centurions and extend their winning run to five straight matches in the Betfred Championship Shield.

Batley were superb throughout as second placed Leigh had little answer to their attacking flair.

Once again French half-back Louis Jouffret had a terrific game, leading Batley’s attack in style, while scoring a fine individual try seven minutes from full-time to cap one of their best performances of the season.

Milestones were also reached by two Batley players with Wayne Reittie making the 250th appearance of his career, while James Brown played his 100th game for the club.

The Bulldogs ran in five tries to condemn Leigh to defeat, which ended their hopes of earning a home Shield final against Featherstone Rovers.

Winger Johnny Campbell continued his rich vein of scoring form in the Shield, bagging another brace, to take his tally to seven tries in six matches.

Batley made a terrific start and went close early on when Reittie was bundled into touch.

The Bulldogs led after six minutes as Doninic Brambani, Jouffret and Dave Scott linked well to send Lewis Galbraith through a gap and over for the opening try.

More quick handling opened the Leigh defence again and in-form winger Campbell finished brilliantly with a try at the left corner.

Ricky Bailey hit back with a 27th minute try which Ben Reynolds converted before Jack Owens crossed soon after as Leigh edged 10-8 in front, a lead which they held until half-time.

Batley came into their own after the break to produce some brilliant rugby.

Dave Scott tied the game up at 10-10 with an early penalty goal but Reynolds put Leigh back in front with a 45th minute try which he converted.

That was to be Leigh’s last try as Batley gained the supremacy to run in 20 unanswered points.

Batley hit back four minutes later as Keenan Tomlinson broke through the defence and drew Leigh full-back Jack Owens before slipping a pass to send Scott racing over. The Bulldogs full-back also converted to leave the scores level once more.

Batley hit the front with a wonderfully worked try on the last tackle as Brambani sliced through the defence before offloading to Jouffret and he produced a lovely weighted kick to the corner for Campbell to pounce for the try, which Scott converted.

There were worrying signs for a period as Reynolds suffered an injury, which required lengthy treatment before he was stretchered from the field and taken to hospital.

Leigh were then reduced to 12 men when Josh Johnson was sin-binned for holding down and Scott stretched the Bulldogs lead by landing the resulting penalty.

Jouffret is quickly becoming a firm favourite with Bulldogs supporters and he produced a superb piece of individual skill to score their fifth try.

Jouffret received the ball around 40 metres from the Leigh try line but showed an excellent turn of pace to race through the defence before producing a lovely step inside to race over at the side of the posts. Scott converted and Batley were on the verge of a fine win.

Tempers briefly threatened to boil over as a scuffle broke out and once order was restored, Galbraith and Leigh prop Ryan Bailey were sent to the sin-bin for their involvement in the melee.

It took none of the gloss from an excellent away performance from Matt Diskin’s men, who will look to round off an impressive Shield campaign when they entertain relegation threatened Swinton Lions in their final game on Sunday.