Batley Bulldogs v Workington Town
The big story of the Championship so far this season has been the success of the Batley Bulldogs. They have beaten Leigh Centurions and Sheffield Eagles at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium in 2016 and John Kear’s men will be hoping to perform at a similar standard when Workington come to visit. The Cumbrians are yet to win a game this year but came very close to upsetting London Broncos in the last round of fixtures.
Last Time Out
In an all West Yorkshire battle against Halifax at The Shay, Batley made it three wins from their opening four fixtures with a 17-12 triumph. The game was always going to be tightly contested and that was typified with the first try of the game coming after 27 minutes through Halifax back-rower, and former Bulldog, Dane Manning. Steve Tyrer converted but the visitors struck back with eight consecutive points to enter half-time with a slender lead. Alex Bretherton notched a try, converted by Dom Brambani who also added a penalty goal to his ever growing points tally in a Batley shirt. After the interval, Halifax regained their lead inside the first six minutes of the half thanks to a try from off-season acquisition Gareth Moore. Tyrer was once again successful from the tee. However, the spirit and fight of the Bulldogs isn’t to be underestimated by anybody this year and it didn’t take long for them to reply with a try on the 50 minute mark courtesy of Brambani. The scrum-half is an integral part of Batley’s charge up the table and his performance against Halifax was the perfect example of that. He converted his own try to get Batley back ahead and they didn’t surrender their lead during the remainder of the afternoon, with Pat Walker and Brambani kicking a penalty goal and a drop goal respectively in the final quarter.
Workington Town were defeated 16-13 by London Broncos at the Zebra Claims Stadium. In a close encounter, the half-time score read 6-6 following Workington’s Jarrod Sammut and London’s James Cunningham both crossing the whitewash during the first period. The closely fought battle continued into the second half, and Sammut found his way over the London try line to put the hosts in the lead and in a good position heading into the latter stages of the tie. But to the disappointment of the Town fans, London edged four points ahead after tries from Rhys Williams and Matt Garside. Workington were in a good attacking position when Sammut, in a weird turn of events, kicked a drop goal to make the score 16-13 with a couple of minutes left on the clock. The hosts couldn’t force the winner and the Broncos returned to the capital with the spoils.
Both sides possess talent in the back-row and, as well as being a key battle, it’ll also be an entertaining one. The second-rowers of Batley for the game against Halifax were Joe Chandler and Alex Bretherton, the latter scored an important try in the match too. The loose forward was Pat Walker, who provides another outlet of creativity in a Bulldogs side that can strike from any area of the pitch. They will be going up against Workington, who have a good back-row that doesn’t deserve to be languishing in the lower echelons of the table. The starting three for Town against London were Brett Phillips and Jarrad Stack in the second row with Liam McAvoy in at loose forward. Stack has been linked with Super League sides in the past while Phillips is a regular in Steve McCormack’s Scotland side.
Workington make their way down to the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium on Sunday with hope of denting the Bulldogs’ fight of mixing it with the so-called ‘big boys’ in the Championship. Town need to start picking up points or the pack of teams above them will take advantage. For Batley it’s all about repeating the performances that have seen them become a team to watch for the season ahead. Not many second tier sides will beat Batley at home this season and I expect the trend to continue this weekend
Batley by 20
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