Schedule takes toll on Bulldogs
Batley Bulldogs 16
Sheffield Eagles 28
By Trevor Watson
BATLEY slipped out of top spot when they had to settle for only a losing bonus point against a big and confident Sheffield side at Mount Pleasant on Monday.
Crucially, the Eagles were much fitter and fresher, having played very little rugby of late and their scheduled Good Friday game was called off.
Batley were carrying so many knocks and in the absence of Ian Preece and Paul Mennell, were struggling at half-back, especially when Mark Toohey went off early.
It was of little surprise when Sheffield shot into the lead helped by a 40-20 by Simon Brown and straight from the scrum Quentin Laulo-Togagae and Dave McDonald linked for the former to score.
Then a lost ball gave Sheffield another scrum and Andrew Henderson forced his way over and two goals by Brown made it 12-0 after six minutes.
Batley battled hard and Dane Manning’s short dash and good pass enabled Daley Williams to hold off several tacklers for an unconverted try.
But Sheffield swarmed down the slope, the sizeable Menzie Yere bundled over, Joe Hirst went over from acting half and a storming break by Laulo-Togagae sent Vinny Finigan clear and two more Brown goals made it a convincing 28-4 at half-time.
To their credit Batley dominated the second half and had 90 per cent of the play.
But without a half-back pairing they lacked flair and both their tries were solo efforts.
George Flanagan did well to force his way over from acting half and in the closing minutes Jonny Campbell pushed his way through and his pace took him clear to the line with Flanagan adding both goals.
There were big second half efforts from Byron Smith and Dave Tootill but it was a match too far for the Bulldogs at this stage.
Batley: Campbell; Reittie, Williams, Maun, Brown; Handforth, Toohey; Smith, Lythe, Potter, Bretherton, Manning, Lindsay. Subs:Flanagn, Buttery, Hesketh, Tootill.
Sheffield: Laulo-Togagae; Finigan, Yere, Crookes, Bergin; McDonald, Brown; Howieson, Henderson, Stringer, Szostak, Green, Hirst. Subs: Mills, Hanson, Hepworth, Rowe.
Referee: Gareth Hewer.