WINGER WAYNE Reittie scored what could be a £50,000 try as Batley Bulldogs pipped Featherstone Rovers in the middle-eights.
Reittie’s second touchdown, 11 minutes from time, sealed an 11-10 win for the home team and made Batley favourites to finish above their fellow part-timers at the end of the Qualifiers.
The side finishing seventh will receive £550,000, with the team below them earning £500,000, so Reittie’s winning score was precious to a club run on a shoestring budget.
Ultimately though, the difference between the sides was a moment of quick thinking from Batley’s outstanding half-back Dominic Brambani as the half-time hooter sounded.
Rovers had just registered their second try to go 8-4 ahead, but Batley got the ball back from a short re-start in the 40th minute and Brambani sent over his one-pointer on the final play of the half to narrow the gap.
That was smart from the No 7, who recognised that every point would count.
Both teams were looking for their first win in the middle-eights. With a big prize at stake the game had a cup tie feel, high on effort, but with little in the way of individual flair and defences were on top throughout.
Playing uphill in the opening 40, Batley scored first after 14 minutes through Reittie, moments after Alex Brown’s touchdown was ruled out because of a knock-on by Chris Ulugia.
Jordan Baldwinson lost possession as Rovers tried to clear their line and in the resulting set Adam Gledhill kicked on the last, Shaun Squires hacked on and Reittie reacted quickly to touch down.
Rovers levelled at the end of the first quarter through Luke Briscoe, one of their three on-loan Leeds Rhinos players, who took advantage of Alex Brown’s fumble from Anthony Thackeray’s kick. Neither try was converted and the next score didn’t come until two minutes before the break, when Danny Craven and Ian Hardman combined nicely to send the impressive James Duckworth over.
The drop goal made it 8-5 at half-time and Rovers’ Jamie Foster landed a penalty goal early in the second half after Dave Scott – who had been held up over the Featherstone line moments earlier – had made a try-saving tackle on Thackeray, but held on too long.
Bulldogs pulled two points back in similar fashion through a Patch Walker kick, but showed little sign of breaking through Rovers’ defence until Brambani kicked a 40-20 on 68 minutes.
Foster collected Brambani’s kick on the last tackle of the resulting set, but lost possession and Reittie’s try came following the scrum. Walker and Brambani worked the ball to Sam Smeaton – a former Featherstone player – and his excellent pass was well finished by Reittie. Rovers had one attack after that, but did not set for what would have been an equalising drop goal and it was Batley who went closest to scoring again through a remarkable long-range break by hard-working hooker Alistair Leak.
Batley Bulldogs: Scott, Reittie, Squires, Ulugia, A Brown, Walker, Brambani, Hirst, Leak, Rowe, Day, Bretherton, Gledhill. Subs Smeaton, Lillycrop, Blake, J Brown.
Featherstone Rovers: Hardman, Duckworth, Briscoe, Taulapapa, Foster, Craven, Thackeray, Griffin, Ellis, Baldwinson, Walters, Spears, Ormondroyd. Subs Day, Tagg, Cooper, Snitch.
Referee: Joe Cobb (Leigh).