Hunslet Hawks 14 Batley Bulldogs 26: Hawks fall off pace as Batley turn the screw

Scott Leatherbarrow
Scott Leatherbarrow
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HUNSLET HAWKS suffered their second defeat in seven days, but did enough against Batley Bulldogs to suggest they will pick up some wins when they learn to play for 80 minutes.

Hawks rallied from 4-0 down to deservedly lead 12-8 at the interval, but Bulldogs were much improved after the break and ran in 18 unanswered points to win 26-14.

Hawks – as they had in last Monday’s opener against Featherstone Rovers – matched their opponents in the first half, but faded after the break.

Batley didn’t really get going before half-time, but were comfortably the better team in the second 40. The sides went set for set in the early stages, but Bulldogs scored the first time the ball was moved wide, full-back James Craven dummying through a gap from Cain Southernwood’s pass after Luke Blake and Scott Leatherbarrow had also handled.

That was on 18 minutes, but Hunslet were ahead four later through Jimmy Watson, who ran through to touch down after Andy Kain grubbered between the posts. Simon Brown converted and added the extras again on 27 following impressive substitute Brad Brennan’s close-range try, soon after Luke Briscoe had held Johnny Campbell up over the home line.

Former Castleford Tigers forward Lee Mitchell made an instant impact for Batley, storming up the middle with his first touch off the bench and setting up field position for their second try, Shaun Squires touching down from Southernwood’s cross-kick. It took a stunning tackle by Watson on Adam Gledhill to preserve Hawks’ lead, but they increased their advantage on half-time when Brown landed a penalty goal.

Batley stepped on the accelerator at the start of the second half and were level within four minutes, Anthony Nicholson nipping over from acting-half and Leatherbarrow landing his first conversion.

Shaun Ainscough went in from Leatherbarrow’s excellent kick on 58 minutes, the No 7 adding the extras and then opening a two-score gap with a penalty for an off-the-ball foul with 15 minutes left.

Hawks kept plugging away, but Bulldogs’ defence stayed strong and the closest Hunslet came was when Watson ducked into a gap and kicked ahead, but the ball ran dead.

Batley sealed the two points – and a second successive victory – when Wayne Reittie forced his way over at the corner in the final minute.

Hunslet Hawks: Watson, Barnett, Briscoe, Maun, Finigan, Kain, S Brown, Houston, Lee, Haley, Lyons, Casey,Mackay. Subs (all used) Flanagan, Broughton, Brennan, Mulhern.

Batley Bulldogs: Craven, Reittie, Ainscough, Squires, Campbell, Southernwood, Leatherbarrow, Rowe, Blake, Lillycrop, Bretherton, Scott, Chandler. Subs (all used) Nicholson, Gledhill, J Brown, Mitchell.

Referee: Tom Crashley.

Attendance: 901.