BATLEY BULLDOGS 30-6 DEWSBURY RAMS by Mark Ward
The first Heavy Woollen derby of 2011 saw bragging rights return to Mount Pleasant this afternoon, as the Bulldogs shook off the cobwebs and comfortably came out on top against a disappointing Dewsbury side.
Fielding several debutants in both the starting line-up and on the bench, it was something of a mixed bag for head coach Karl Harrison. At the positive end of the scale, several signings showed their potential for next season with the returning Paul Mennell, Dane Manning and Wayne Reittie the stand-out performers alongside the old guard, but this was tempered by an injury early on to Adam Robinson, which saw the former Ram hobbling out of the ground on crutches.
By comparison, the visitors were at best sluggish and never really threatened to take a grip on the game even when the scores were close early on. Much of their play was laboured and predictable, primarily because virtually everything they tried was channelled through Dominic Brambani, making it easy for the Bulldogs to close the Rams down at virtually every opportunity. The home defence was rock solid this afternoon, often frustrating the visitors as continual ferocious and fast tackling reigned down on them.
Batley thought they had scored as early as the 4th minute when Paul Handforth's kick to the line was fumbled by James Craven and although Handforth looked to have touched down, the effort was chalked off. On 11 minutes it was the Rams' turn to have a try disallowed when Ayden Faal grounded Brambani's kick in the corner but was adjudged to have knocked on. With both sides threatening, a try just had to come and so it did on 18 minutes. Moments before, Handforth's break had rattled the Dewsbury defence but his final pass went astray before Austin Buchanan knocked on to return the initiative to Batley. From the resultant set, Gareth Moore's delicate chip was reeled in superbly by the impressive Ian Preece and the full-back touched down to open Batley's account. Moore's subsequent conversion pushed the score on to 6-0.
To their credit, Dewsbury dug in and they restored parity to the scoring on 23 minutes. Brambani's simple kick to the corner caught Wayne Reittie in no man's land allowing Buchanan the opportunity to gleefully ground in the corner. A superb conversion from out wide by Pat Walker brought matters level at 6-6.
Then came a costly spell for the visitors just prior to the interval which swung the pendulum of the match firmly towards the Bulldogs. On 37 minutes, a sustained spell of home pressure paid dividends as Moore's drop of the shoulder and charge to the line restored the home side's advantage. Moore duly converted his own try and then successive errors by Walker (kicking out on the full) and Rob Spicer (interference) allowed Moore to slot over a further two points just before the break.
HALF-TIME: BATLEY BULLDOGS 14-6 DEWSBURY RAMS
GOLDEN GAMBLE: 6896
With the Bulldogs going down the slope in the second period, the result of the game looked in little doubt after the 49th minute when Kris Lythe connected with a rejuvenated Mark Toohey who barrelled over the Rams line to increase the home advantage, added to again by Moore, bringing the score to 20-6.
Dane Manning was an impressive debutant for the 'Dogs, and he almost created another try on 55 minutes but his final, releasing pass to Alex Brown was judged forward. By the three-quarter point of the game, Batley were dominating their opponents who, on the rare occasion they had the ball, seemed content to play one-man rugby which the Bulldogs easily defused. On 68 minutes, a superb 30 metre run by Ash Lindsey set the platform for Moore to chip through a flagging Rams' defensive line for Daley Williams to score. Again Moore converted and the hosts were home and hosed at 26-6.
On 76 minutes, Paul Mennell, who was his usual effervescent self on his return to the Mount, turned creater, feeding in Preece on his shoulder to wrap up a comfortable win.
There's little doubt that Karl Harrison will be the happier of the two coaches tonight, despite losing new signing Robinson with a bad-looking injury. It wasn't a vintage Bulldogs performance, but there were no weak links, and the Rams were restricted to one formulaic try - other than that they never broke a tackle and never looked capable of mounting a realistic challenge against a granite-like defence. All in all, a decent start to the pre-season campaign and bring on the next game!
BATLEY BULLDOGS: 1 Preece, 2 Brown, 3 Williams, 4 Maun, 5 Reittie, 6 Handforth, 7 Moore, 8 Smith, 9 Lythe, 21 Martin, 11 Bretherton, 12 Walton, 15 Robinson. Interchange: 10 Hesketh, 13 Lindsey, 16 Mennell, 17 Potter, 18 Manning, 19 Toohey, 20 Tootill, 22 Fulstone.
T: Preece 2, Moore, Toohey, Williams
G: Moore 5
DEWSBURY RAMS: 1 Craven, 2 Wainwright, 13 Faal, 4 Turner, 5 Buchanan, 6 Walker, 7 Brambani, 8 England, 9 Blake, 10 Hirst, 11 Spicer, 12 Lockwood, 14 Roberts. Interchange: 3 Saxton, 15 Tonks, 18 Emblem, 21 Bibb, 22 Horton, 23 Menzies, 24 Willson, 27 Glassel, 30 Shaw.
SCORING SEQUENCE: 6-0, 6-6, 12-6, 14-6, HT, 20-6, 26-6, 30-6
REFEREE: Craig Halloran
MAN OF THE MATCH: Ian Preece (Batley Bulldogs)
Posted by Mark Ward
Match Report by Mark Ward 2/1/2011
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