Batley Bulldogs 20 Dewsbury Rams 22 - Heavy Woollen derby ends year-long layoff

Veteran Paul Sykes' touchline conversion was the difference as visitors Dewsbury Rams came out on top in a surprisingley entertaining pre-season derby at Batley Bulldogs.

Saturday, 6th March 2021, 5:58 pm
Rugby league is back at Fox's Biscuits Stadium. Picture by Peter Smith

It was Bulldogs' first game in a day short of a year and Rams hadn't played for 51 weeks, but the quality of rugby was better than could be expected under the circumstanes.

Though there was little between the teams, Rams were the better team after the break and narrowly deserved their win.

Both coaches fielded all their available players - Batley using 24 and Dewsbury 29, though they weren't all listed on the teamsheet - and there were encouraging signs, despite all the changes.

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Dewsbury Rams warm up before their win at Batley. Picture by Peter Smith.

Various lockdowns have limited the amount of contact work done in training, but there was some strong defence from either side and most of the errors were forced.

Batley, playing uphill, led 14-12 at the break, thanks to a try by Luke Hooley after the hooter had sounded.

Tom Gilmore had created it by regathering his own kick and the former Widnes' man's boot will be a dangerous attacking weapon for Bulldogs this year.

Batley scored first through another smart signing, Jodie Broughton, but Aaron Hall replied with a good catch from a kick by Liam Finn, who also converted.

Dale Morton crossed against his former club and Joe Sanderson converted off the touchline, but Bulldogs replied immediately with \ Matty Fleming touchdown, from a kick by the impressive Reiss Butterworth, improved by Finn.

Rams went back in front through Adam Ryder's well-worked try, but Ben White created a touchdown for Lucas Walshaw and also added the extras.

Dewsbury again greabbed the lead with a brilliant finish by Davey Dixon and Paul Sykes' touchline goal which proved the difference at the end after a scoreless final quarter, the visitors holding on despite the loss of Chris Annakin to the sin-bin.