Featherstone Rovers 30 Batley Bulldogs 22 - Hosts survive potential Challenge Cup upset against spirited visitors
FEATHERSTONE ROVERS booked their place in the third round of the Challenge Cup but were made to work hard for it against a spirited Batley Bulldogs side.
The hosts were not at their best but were clinical in possession to edge past Batley, who produced a fine performance at Post Office Road.
After a spirited effort, the visitors will be disappointed to have left Featherstone empty handed but the performance sets them in good stead for their Championship campaign, which begins with a fixture against Rovers on Friday.
Featherstone chief James Webster will no doubt want improvement from his side, who are among the favourites for promotion this season.
Batley coach Craig Lingard wanted his forward players to set the tone in the opening stages and they delivered for their coach, as the visitors opened the scoring after a strong start.
A lovely dummy from Dale Morton opened the gap for the outside back to plant down.
The response from the hosts was immediate, as a clinical period from Featherstone saw them score four unanswered tries.
Ex-Bulldogs player Brad Day got Rovers' first try of the game as he burst through a gap following a pass from Nu Brown.
Ben Blackmore strolled over minutes later as he took a smart pass from Craig Hall to score in the left corner.
Some lovely footwork from Brown saw him dance his way through the Batley defence for a fine try before the same man then pounced on an error from the visitors to offload for Kris Welham to dot down in the corner.
Hall converted just one of the four first-half tries, leaving Batley with less of a mountain to climb as they sought a way back into the contest.
Lingard's side finished the half strongly and hit back when Blackmore spilled a kick which Morton hacked forward for Elliot Hall to dive on over the whitewash.
Morton added a penalty goal on the hooter as Batley emerged for the second half in a determined mood.
The Bulldogs forced a number of errors from Featherstone and wave after wave of pressure finally told as Luke Hooley plunged over to level.
A remarkable piece of play from Johnny Campbell regained the lead for Batley just before the hour as he caught a high pass, dropped it onto his boot before grounding in goal after Hall failed to deal with it.
However, back-to-back penalties allowed the hosts an easy way up the field and James Harrison regained the lead as he plunged over under the posts from Jack Bussey's offload.
Victory was sealed for Webster's men when ex-Batley forward Harrison broke and fed Dean Parata who sped away to score next to the posts.
The win puts Featherstone into the next round of the competition and into the semi-finals of the 1895 Cup.
Featherstone Rovers: Hall, Blackmore, Welham, Hardcastle, Gale, Brown, Chisholm, Kopczak, Jones, Lockwood, Halton, Day, Bussey. Substitutes: Parata, Moors, Harrison, Ferres.
Batley Bulldogs: Hooley, Hall, Morton, Logan, Campbell, White, Gilmore, Everett, Lillycrop, Buchanan, Walshaw, Blagbrough. Substitutes: Leak, Ward, Senior, Flynn.