Bulldogs grind out first win of season over Rochdale

Batley Bulldogs ground out a first Betfred Championship season as they overcame a plucky Rochdale Hornets 18-12.

Sunday, 24th February 2019, 6:13 pm
Updated Sunday, 24th February 2019, 6:22 pm
Lewis Galbraith scored two tries in Batley's win over Rochdale.

It was not the prettiest of games but it was the result, rather than the performance, which pleased Bulldogs coach Matt Diskin as his side showed determination to see out victory.

Batley impressed playing up the slope in the first half and scored two well-worked tries through stand-in winger Lewis Galbraith, while having a Sam Wood effort ruled out.

Defensively, Batley were also solid in the first half, restricting Rochdale to a single try.

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Wayne Reittie denied former Bulldog Shaun Ainscough early on before Batley took a ninth minute lead from their first real attack.

Their forwards rumbled upfield before play was moved left and James Brown fed Sam Smeaton, who offloaded for Galbraith to squeeze in at the corner.

Dave Scott landed a towering touchline conversion.

Batley attacked again with Dominic Brambani and Scott linking to give Wood the a chance to storm for the line but he was judged to have knocked on when stretching over.

The Bulldogs increased their lead after 28 minutes as Brambani and half-back partner Danny Yates linked as play was moved left to Smeaton and he again sent Galbraith in at the corner, with Scott landing another superb conversion.

Rochdale hit back towards the end of the first half as Ainscough broke downfield on a 60 metre run before he was caught by Dane Manning but the Hornets maintained their momentum as substitute Adam Lawton stretched over between the posts to give Daniel Abram a simple conversion.

Lawton almost repeated the feat soon after but was judged to have lost the ball when stretching over for his second try.

Batley led 12-6 at the break and were looking to kick on but the second half proved a drab affair, littered by mistakes from both sides.

Reittie cut in from the wing but was held before Yates kick was comfortably dealt with by the Hornets defence in the only attack of note in the opening 20 minutes.

It took a Scott penalty from in front of the posts to stretch Batley’s lead.

Batley looked to have sealed victory from their best moment of the second half as Brambani chipped over and hooker Alistair Leak gathered the ball before moving it quickly right and Reittie dived in at the corner for an unconverted try.

But Rochdale won the ball back from a short kick off and they launched an attack of their own with Stuart Howarth offloading to send Lee Mitchell crashing over on the left.

The referee consulted his touch judge before awarding the try and Abram landed a terrific conversion.

The expected grandstand finale never materialised as Batley did enough to close the game out and ensure a first win of the season.

Batley Bulldogs: Scott; Reittie, S Wood, Smeaton, Galbraith; Yates, Brambani; Gledhill, Leak, Everett, Manning, Downs, Brown. Subs: Hemingway, Taira, Lillycrop, Bienek.

Rochdale Hornets: Abram; Ainscough, Case, Flynn, B Wood; Whittaker, Howarth; Foster, Moore, Akauola, Wheldon, Mitchell, Davis. Subs: Moran, Lawton, Carberry, Gillam.

Referee: Liam Stavely.

Attendance: 757.