Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Sunday's Coming: Batley

And so we go to Mount (un)Pleasant to find last year's Championship Grand finalists staring into the abyss at the wrong end of the table.

The previous week's win at Swinton ended Batley's four-match losing run, but normal service was resumed last week when their injury-hit side went down by 32 to 26 at Featherstone.

Two unconverted tries in the last seven minutes from Pogo Paterson and Alex Rowe were enough to snaffle the bonus point - but the Yorkshire Post's match report gives us a sizeable clue to how Batley crept back into a game that Fev looked to have wrapped up.

"Featherstone’s clinical nature in attack, particularly on the flanks, and ability to nullify Batley near their own line proved the catalyst to the victory, despite going through two torrid periods with discipline and ball retention that saw Batley score 20 of their points." Put simply, it doesn't matter who you are and who you're playing,  if you give the opposition enough ball, they'll score. As we saw only too clearly at Barrow…

Indeed, Batley are the living embodiment of why bonus points are so critical in the Championship restructure dogfight. They currently sit in the hallowed 9th spot, with only one win more than Hornets, but with a big fat five bonus points. Yes - effectively two free wins. For losing. Complaints on a postcard to Nigel Wood. Who doesn't really care as he's most likely on a Rugby League International Federation jolly to Port Moresby. Or Parramatta. Or Pontefract…

But don't worry, everyone: Batley's John Kear has a typically doom-mongering 'Yocksha' view on the future of our game. Speaking in the Daily Star 18 months ago he said:

1895 and all that: John Kear takes his seat at Twickers.
“I am not confident about the code’s long-term prospects as an elite, full-time sport. The threats to the game now are greater than ever, leading me to question whether in the long-term there will be league at professional level. In a few generations it might be amateur, or at best a semi-professional, part-time game.”

“The dangers are two-fold. Union will swallow League or there will be a hybrid game, combining the two sports as they are now."

As we all know, not only were  the 'Gallant Youths' original members of the Northern Union, they were the first winners of the Northern Union Challenge Cup in 1897 beating St. Helens 10-3 at Headingley - so Kear's fatalistic view would be heresy to Batley's proud founders who took the brave step of telling the RFU to go f*ck itself in 1895.

Back in the present, Hornets need to repeat the robust, hard-working performance that denied Batley the points at Spotland. Indeed, a win of any shade would boost confidence as our six-week exodus - as always - begins to take its toll.

A big mention here to the Hornets fans who made the trip up to Barrow and made themselves heard. Every body and every voice is essential to give the lads a vital lift. We know we can beat Batley - we've seen it happen already. Time to see if lightning can strike twice.

See you there.