Sheffield Eagles 10 Batley Bulldogs 54: Debutants shine as ten-try Bulldogs turn on the style

Batley's Alistair Leek goes over for the first try despite the efforts of Sheffield's Greg Burns.
 PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Batley's Alistair Leek goes over for the first try despite the efforts of Sheffield's Greg Burns. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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DEBUTANTS JOEL Farrell and Tom Holmes both made a significant impact as Batley Bulldogs turned on the style to thrash ‘hosts’ Sheffield Eagles 54-10 at Wakefield.

Farrell, son of former Leeds Rhinos forward Anthony Farrell, joined Batley from Dewsbury Rams in the off-season, but missed their opening three Kingstone Press Championship games due to injury.

Batley's Brad Day is congratulated after scoring the second try against Sheffield. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Batley's Brad Day is congratulated after scoring the second try against Sheffield. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

He started at loose-forward and his powerful running had Sheffield back-pedaling from the off.

Holmes, who is on a season-long loan from Castleford Tigers, was introduced at hooker late in the first half and switched to half-back after the break. He scored a brace of tries and was involved in several others.

With Cain Southernwood back at stand-off – before moving to hooker after half-time – Batley were transformed from the ineffectual side beaten 32-6 by Featherstone Rovers in their previous match.

After a tough opening quarter, they cut loose and scored nine of their 10 tries in a blistering 41-minute spell either side of the break.

Batley's Tom Holmes stretches over to score against Sheffield.
PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Batley's Tom Holmes stretches over to score against Sheffield. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Eagles struggled to hold on to the ball, giving Batley numerous attacking opportunities and their discipline was poor.

Batley won the penalty count 11-7 and, unlike against Rovers, they made that advantage count.

Hooker Alistair Leek was excellent for Batley early on and he nipped over from close-range for their opening try on 12 minutes, after they had tapped a penalty in front of the posts. Southernwood landed the first of his seven conversions.

Elliot Minchella’s try, converted by fellow Leeds Rhinos academy product Simon Brown, levelled matters soon afterwards, but the rest of the opening half belonged to Batley.

Leek’s pass sent Brad Day – who had a strong game in the second-row – over on 22 minutes and nine later Holmes, who had just come off the bench, scored from a scrum close to Eagles’ line.

Quick hands produced a try at the corner for Wayne Reittie and then Day sliced through for a well-taken touchdown on the final play of the half, making it 26-6.

Four tries in the first 17 minutes after half-time underlined Bulldogs’ superiority.

Brambani has been at the heart of Batley’s success since joining them when Eagles went full-time at the end of 2015. He dummied over on 46 minutes and moments later was tipped by Will Hope, who was sin-binned.

From the penalty Farrell’s run opened up the defence and allowed Dane Manning to send Reittie in.

The restart went out on the full and Macauley Hallett crossed in the next set, then Holmes’ second try – from Brambani’s grubber – brought up the half-century with 23 minutes left. Holmes’ pass was finished by Michael Hayward on 63 minutes, but Batley got scrappy after that and Eagles grabbed a late consolation try through Dane Chisholm, though his missed conversion – from almost in front of the post – summed up their afternoon.

Sheffield Eagles: Chisholm, Lo, Yere, Whiteley, Blackmore, Brown, Fozard, Wheeldon, Burns, James, Straugheir, Scott, Minchella. Subs Millar, Trout, Hope, Foster.

Batley Bulldogs: Scott, Reittie, Smeaton, Hallett, Hayward, Southernwood, Brambani, Gledhill, Leek, Maher, Manning, Day, Farrell. Subs Holmes, Chandler, Harrison, Rowe.

Referee: Andy Sweet (Castleford).

Attendance: 662.

Dewsbury Rams try scorer, Josh Guzdek. PIC: Paul Butterfield

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