Match report: Featherstone Rovers v Batley Bulldogs

LIAM FINN got Featherstone Rovers' league campaign off to a flier with a 36-10 win over Batley Bulldogs.

The experienced scrum-half was involved in all Featherstone's best work as they beat the Bulldogs in the opening league fixture for the second year running.

Jon Steel and Ian Hardman each bagged two tries and Kyle Briggs landed six goals from six kicks to send Batley crashing to their first defeat this season.

Rovers coach Daryl Powell said: "We were excellent, particularly in the first-half. We controlled field position, scored some smart tries and defensively we were outstanding. We were tough throughout and everyone showed a great attitude."

Featherstone made a blistering start with two tries in the first 10 minutes.

Finn's neat pass put in Hardman before half-backs Finn and Briggs sent in Matty Dale.

Rovers did well to survive Batley pressure before they stretched their lead with two tries in four minutes.

Substitute Andy Kain, with his first touch, created a touchdown for Liam Welham before Finn, Briggs and Hardman made the opening for Steel to cross at the corner and Briggs kicked his fourth goal to make it 24-0.

Batley's best first-half chance saw Ian Preece's effort ruled out for a forward pass.

The Bulldogs came far more into the game in the second period and opened their account in the 42nd minute when substitute Jason Walton scored from Kris Lythe's pass and Gareth Moore converted.

But Rovers struck an important blow 14 minutes from time when Mike Coady put in Steel for his second touchdown.

Batley's Paul Handforth and Walton paved the way for Jonny Campbell to collect his seventh try this season, but Rovers had the final word with Hardman's second of the match after clever play by Kain and Stuart Dickens.

Batley coach Karl Harrison admitted: "We were second best at everything. Featherstone played exceptional rugby at times and put us to the sword."

Featherstone Rovers: Hardman; Steel, Coady, Welham, Saxton; Briggs, Finn; Tonks, Lee, Dickens, Grayshon, Dale, Field. Subs: Morrison, Divorty, Kain, Manning.

Batley Bulldogs: Campbell; Preece, Barlow, Maun, Greenwood; Handforth, Moore; Smith, Lythe, Hesketh, Potter, Buttery, Toohey. Subs: Lindsay, Walton, Martin, Tootill.

Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).

Attendance: 1,353.

Huddersfield defence to register a fine solo effort.

Chris Wood sandwiched between Gethin Jones and Marc Roberts during last season's encounter, which the hosts won 3-2.  Picture: Bruce Rollinson

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