Batley Bulldogs produced a terrific effort but came up just short as they bowed out of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup 8-4 to full-time outfit Leigh Centurions on a bitterly cold afternoon at Fox’s Biscuits Stadium.
Bulldogs supporters had descended on the ground early in the morning to clear the pitch of snow to ensure the game went ahead and their magnificent efforts earned the praise of coach Matt Diskin.
Batley threatened to pull off a cup upset and twice in the second half winger Wayne Reittie looked to have grabbed an equalising try only to lose the ball in the act of scoring from two very difficult chances.
The Centurions scored the only try of the tie, through debutant winger Ricky Bailey as they edged into the fifth round.
Playing up the slope in the first half, Batley made a bright start and Patch Walker edged them ahead with an eighth-minute penalty.
Walker slotted over a second goal after Leigh were guilty of interference at the play the ball but Batley knocked on at the kick off and Leigh mounted a spell of pressure. A terrific defensive effort kept Leigh at bay but they forced Batley to drop out and the pressure finally told as the visitors moved left and Bailey stormed down the touchline to score.
Jack Owens landed the touchline goal to edge Leigh ahead. Batley repelled further pressure with Ward, James Harrison and Joe Chandler all excellent to trail only 6-4 at the break.
The second half became a slog in the mud as both sides battled to gain the upper hand.
Owens slotted over a 60th minute penalty to stretch the lead to four points and while Batley threatened to hit back in the final quarter Leigh were able to run the clock down.
Batley Bulldogs: Scott; Reittie, Cowling, Crookes, Galbraith; Walker, Brambani; Rowe, Davey, Ward, Harrison, Day, Chandler. Subs: Hemingway, Brown, Tomlinson, Smeaton.
Leigh Centurions: Mata’uita-Leifi; Dawson, Crooks, Evans, Bailey; Owens, Hutchison; Vaivai, Hood, Mason, Lovett, B Thompson, Gregson. Subs: Higham, J Thompson, Dezaria, Hansen.
Referee: Tom Grant.