Featherstone 44 Batley 16: Sykes sets standard as Rovers’ first-half display proves too strong for Batley

Paul Sykes
Paul Sykes
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FEATHERSTONE renewed their top-four bid with an impressive first-half display to bag their fifth win in six Championship games.

They completed a league double over Batley after building a match-winning 34-0 interval lead. Former Great Britain player Paul Sykes, who was switched to centre, scored a first-half hat-trick before dummying his way over in the final minute for his fourth touchdown. He also converted six of Featherstone’s eight tries to finish with a personal haul of 28 points.

Batley improved in the second period after a dismal first half but it was far too late to avert their seventh defeat in eight matches. Andy Ellis sparked the Rovers spree with his 99th career try. Matt James plunged over from close range before Sykes scored his first.

A lovely move involving Gareth Moore and Reni Maitua saw Sykes bag his second and he completed his hat-trick by bursting over from another Moore pass. Luke Teasdale sent Jack Ormondroyd racing over to put Rovers out of sight at the break, though Batley battled back in the second-half to cut the deficit to 34-16.

Shaun Ainscough scored before Alistair Leak darted over. Lee Mitchell forced his way through from close range and Leatherbarrow added his second goal, but the Bulldogs’ revival ended when Sykes sent in Ben Blackmore direct from a scrum in the 65th minute.

Batley’s James Brown failed to hold a pass with the try line wide open before Sykes rounded things off for Rovers in the dying seconds.

Featherstone: Hitchcox; Blackmore, Hardman, Sykes, Sharp; Milner, Moore; Baldwinson, Ellis, Wood, Cording, Maitua, James. Subs: Teasdale, Bostock, Verlinden, Ormondroyd.

Batley: Ainscough; Reittie, Squires, Bretherton, A Brown; Leek, Leatherbarrow, Hirst, Blake, Rowe, Mitchell, Day, J Brown. Subs: Gledhill, Hesketh, Scott, Chandler.

Referee: Mike Woodhead (St Helens).

Attendance: 2,067.