Match Report: Featherstone Rovers 18-12 Batley Bulldogs
Posted 07 July 2013 - 08:15 PM
Kingstone Press Championship, BigFellas Stadium, 7 July 2013
The Bulldogs' top-five hoodoo continued this afternoon at a sun-drenched BigFellas Stadium as Featherstone held firm to close out an entertaining 18-12 win, still leaving John Kear and his charges still searching for a victory against fellow Championship-hopeful opponents this season. Rovers were good value for the win in the final analysis, but a combination of wasteful possession from them and a spirited performance from the visitors meant that the final result was always in doubt until the closing hooter.
After a dismal run of results, the Bulldogs can at least take some heart from today's performance - they matched Featherstone for the full eighty minutes and certainly had opportunities to come away with all three points, but they were undone by some of their decision-making in a second-half where they failed to score a point, but the way they went about their task was certainly deserving of at least the bonus point they deserved in tough physical conditions. Rovers on the other hand frustrated the life out of their supporters with seemingly endless handling errors after the break, but they dug in to come away with three crucial points as both sides defended magnificently in the scorching heat.
Rovers started brightly with Andy Kain pulling the strings for the hosts and went in front as early as the sixth minute; the hosts piggy-backed up the field on Bulldogs errors and Steve Crossley had the power and determination to crash through the visitors' defensive line under the sticks, providing a simple conversion for Liam Finn to make it 6-0. That said, Featherstone were far from having it their own way as the Bulldogs stood toe-to-toe with their opponents - John Davies coughed up the ball near the line on 10 minutes and moments later it looked Tom Hemingway had released the same player to the line but play was pulled back for a forward pass. The visitors continued to press and it came as little surprise when Ben Black's sublime pass allowed Miles Greenwood to steam in after Tom Hemingway had set up the platform with a scrambling run. Hemingway landed the extras to restore parity to the scoreline at 6-6.
Both sides continued to threaten as the half wore on, but it was the hosts who once again made the decisive breakthrough on the half-hour when Kain released full-back Ian Hardman to go in at the right corner. This time the conversion proved too taxing for Finn, but Rovers had edged 10-6 in front. But still the Bulldogs continued to bite back, and when Jack Bussey conceded a penalty in possession for a push on Jason Walton, the visitors took full advantage moments later when Gareth Moore spun the ball out to Greg Johnson who went in at the corner, and Hemingway landed an outstanding touchline conversion to send his side in 12-10 up at the break.
HALF-TIME: FEATHERSTONE ROVERS 10-12 BATLEY BULLDOGS
Little were the onlooking crowd to realise, but the game-breaking moment arrived as the first meaningful passage of the second-half on 42 minutes. A rare defensive lapse allowed Lamont Bryan to set off a barnstorming run which skittled the Bulldogs and Andy Ellis was on hand to edge Featherstone back in front from dummy-half with Finn's latest conversion pushing Rovers' advantage on to 16-12. Bryan was nearly in again on 51 minutes as the hosts pushed on but he knocked on with the line beckoning.
The Bulldogs continued to scrap away themselves though and spurned a golden opportunity on 55 minutes - John Davies' powerhouse run split Rovers' defence and he fed in Gareth Moore, who failed to see two runners outside him and took the decision to kick the ball into space, but overcooked the chip which went dead. Four minutes later, Liam Walmsley put down Black's pass with the line looming and then Johnny Campbell hared clear down the right before chipping towards the sticks and causing consternation in the Fev ranks until Hardman managed to pat the ball out for a drop-out.
In truth, the visitors continued to have the lion's share of possession as Rovers coughed the ball up with alarming regularity, but even when giving up possession the hosts defended ferociously meaning that scoring opportunities began to dry up for both sides with defensive units dominating. George Flanagan was held up over the line on 67 minutes, as was Steve Crossley two minutes later in isolated attacking opportunities and when Flanagan was penalised on 71 minutes for interference, the signal went up from the Rovers bench to take the two on offer and Liam Finn's successful kick signalled the end of the scoring at 18-12.
So, in the final analysis, there was at last something positive for the Bulldogs at what will hopefully be the end of their three-match losing streak. John Kear's side were strong defensively and a bit more inventive in the final third - indeed with some more intelligent decisions the visitors could easily have come away with all three points this afternoon and they will hopefully set up for next week's long trip to Whitehaven with more expectation that they will register that elusive run-breaking win.
FEATHERSTONE ROVERS: 1 Hardman, 26 Sharp, 18 Hepworth, 4 Worthington, 2 Saxton, 6 Kain, 7 Finn, 10 Crossley, 9 Kaye, 16 James, 17 Lockwood, 12 Spears, 11 Dale. Interchange: 14 Ellis, 15 Bryan, 21 Bostock, 22 Bussey.
T: Crossley, Hardman, Ellis
G: Finn 3
BATLEY BULLDOGS: 1 Greenwood, 5 Campbell, 3 Walton, 11 Bretherton, 21 Johnson, 6 Black, 23 Hemingway, 8 Smith, 14 Flanagan, 26 Fleming, 16 Davies, 17 Walmsley, 25 Leary. Interchange: 7 Moore, 9 Mennell, 15 Hirst, 19 Rowe.
T: Greenwood, Johnson
G: Hemingway 2
SCORING SEQUENCE: 6-0, 6-6, 10-6, 10-12, HT, 16-12, 18-12
REFEREE: Dave Merrick
MAN OF THE MATCH: Andy Kain (Featherstone Rovers) - made the home side tick throughout the 80 minutes.
Posted 07 July 2013 - 08:44 PM
Excellent report Mark.Bit frustrating being on the wrong end of a closely fought game once again.
Posted 07 July 2013 - 08:59 PM
Posted 08 July 2013 - 04:08 PM
A good effort by both teams yesterday. Glad to see Hemmingway back at scrum half hopefully John Kear will keep him there until the end of the season.
"Anyone who does not watch rugby league is not a real person."
Posted 08 July 2013 - 05:40 PM
Posted 08 July 2013 - 08:39 PM