BAtley Bulldogs left their Canadian adventure with their heads held high despite slipping to a heavy defeat against full-time opponents Toronto Wolfpack in the sweltering heat at Lamport Stadium last Saturday.
The Bulldogs were severely hampered by having to take a much weakened squad for their historic trip as players struggled to get time off work, others had problems obtaining visas and Batley also continue to be hit by an injury crisis.
Dominic Brambani returned from a lengthy lay-off to take up his place at scrum-half, while there was also a place on the bench for Danny Maun, who came out of retirement after three years to pull on a Bulldogs shirt for one last time.
Despite Maun’s inclusion, Batley were still only able to name three substitutes and were always going to be up against it facing a side who went into the game on the back of a 16-match winning run and who boasted an unbeaten home record.
Batley trailed 36-6 at half-time but had a bright spell after the break when they put the Wolfpack under pressure but the speed and power of the Canadian side proved to much.
Blake Wallace opened the scoring in the eighth minute with the first of his hat-trick when he sidestepped the defence before racing 70 metres for a terrific individual try.
Toronto broke down the left and then produced a fine handling move across the field to give centre Greg Worthington a simple finish.
Chase Stanley cut through after Toronto again moved right as he added a third try and Wallace then supported Gareth O’Brien to score his second try between the posts.
O’Brien added conversions to the latter two tries as Toronto led 20-0 after just 16 minutes.
Batley struggled to gain possession as Toronto dominated and Cory Paterson kicked through for Nick Rawsthorne to touch down before Wallace beat the Batley defence and sent Bob Beswick over for the sixth try and O’Brien added both goals.
Batley finally gave their travelling supporters something to cheer with a 29th minute try.
Brambani kicked towards the line and full-back O’Brien spilled the ball for the scrum-half to regather and score. Izaac Farrell tagged on the goal.
Toronto restored their supremacy as Paterson scored after the ball was moved left. Ryan Brierley took over the kicking duties after O’Brien was injured during Batley’s try but was unable to add the goal.
Adam Higson added a 45th minute try when he beat a defender and acrobatically dived over in the corner but it was too wide out for Brierley to convert.
The Bulldogs showed plenty of spirit early in the second half and they capitalised on a series of penalties to take play close to the line and James Davey darted over from acting half-back to score at the left of the posts, with Izaac Farrell converting.
Toronto had Olsi Krasniqi sin-binned but Batley couldn’t capitalise on the extra man advantage.
After repelling the Bulldogs, Wolfpack substitute Andy Ackers dummied his way over from close range and Brierley converted.
Brierley kicked a 40-20 which allowed Ackers to complete a quickfire double as he barged over for his second try in two minutes. Brierley converted
Brierley then added a third try in the space of just five minutes as he collected a neat pass from Stanley to race between the posts and give himself a simple goal.
The Bulldogs continued to show great heart and were rewarded with a third try when Michael Ward collected a short pass and spun out of a tackle to score with Farrell converting.
Toronto rounded off their win when Wallace completed his hat-trick two minutes from time and Brierley converted.
The Bulldogs left to an ovation from their fans as Maun was carried from the field on his teammates shoulders.