Batley Bulldogs 24 Bradford Bulls 24: Bulldogs bite back for a deserved share of the spoils

Batley players celebrate Keegan Hirst's try against Bradford Bulls.
Batley players celebrate Keegan Hirst's try against Bradford Bulls.
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Batley Bulldogs loose-forward Patch Walker kicked a last-gasp penalty goal to snatch his side a dramatic draw against Championship big guns Bradford Bulls.

Bulldogs trailed 24-12 with just 13 minutes remaining but rallied with tries from Keegan Hirst and Alex Brown. And when Alex Rowe was fouled in a tackle seconds before the final hooter, Walker had chance to snatch a share of the spoils with the last kick of the game.

Kicking towards a stand packed with Bulls fans, Walker held his nerve to spark jubilant scenes among his team-mates.

It was no more than Batley deserved and John Kear’s side remain unbeaten against last season’s top four Championship sides. Another terrific advert for Championship rugby was played in front of 2,742 spectators. Bradford struck first when they moved play right for winger Omari Caro to force his way over, and Danny Addy added a terrific touchline goal.

Batley hit back when James Brown drove towards the posts before Cain Southernwood slipped a lovely pass to Danny Cowling and he in turn sent Bulls loanee Chris Ulugia storming over. Walker levelled with a fine conversion.

Batley were led brilliantly by captain Keegan Hirst who drove the Bulldogs forward. Batley hit the front when Southernwood sent Ulugia racing through and was on hand to collect the return pass before sending full-back Dave Scott storming to the posts for a well-worked try, improved by Walker.

Bradford ended the first half on top and looked to have taken a grip on the match with two tries in the lead-up to half-time.

Kris Welham kicked towards the line and when a Batley defender spilled the ball, Dale Ferguson gathered and dived over for a try which Addy converted.

Batley were then penalised for taking Matty Blythe out off the ball and the Bulls moved play inside for Lee Gaskell to send Jay Pitts storming over.

Addy converted and the Bulls led 18-12, having played up the Mount Pleasant slope in the first half.

Pitts looked to have grabbed a decisive try when he collected Ferguson’s pass to score at the side of the posts after 51 minutes and Addy converted.

But Hirst returned from the substitutes’ bench to lead Batley’s stunning fightback.

Southernwood launched a towering up-and-under which the Bulls’ defence failed to deal with, and the ball bounced into Hirst’s arms. He crossed between the posts, with Walker converting.

Batley had Bradford on the back foot and another Southernwood kick bounced into Alex Rowe’s arms and he flipped the ball back inside.

Batley created an overlap on the right and Alex Brown raced through and dived in at the corner.

Walker’s touchline conversion attempt was inches wide and Bradford looked to have held on for victory.

But Batley showed terrific character to launch a final attack.

And when Rowe was fouled, Walker held his nerve to kick the penalty with the last kick of the game.

Batley Bulldogs: D Scott; A Brown, Cowling, Ulugia, Ainscough; Southernwood, Brambani; Hirst, Blake, J Brown, Chandler, Bretherton, Walker. Subs: Leak, Rowe, Gledhill, Lillycrop.

Bradford Bulls: Mathers; Clare, Blythe, Welham, Caro; Gskell, Addy; Clough, O’Brien, Lovegrove, Haggerty, Pitts. Subs: Mellor, Clark, Thomas, Crossley.

Referee: Ben Thaler.

Attendance: 2.742.

Batley's coach Matt Diskin. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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