Friday, 23 June 2017

Sunday's Coming: Batley

We spy with our little eye, something else beginning with 'B' as, hot onthe heels of Bradford, Batley Bulldogs make their way to Spotland on Sunday in search of a third consecutive win.

And they do it having delivered quite possibly the most eyecatching scoreline of this championship season so far - having flogged Sheffield Eagles by 70-12 at the Mount last week. En route, Batley racked up 11 tries (four to wing Wayne Reittie) and stand-off Patch Walker ended the game  with a 100% record landing 13 goals. He also weighed in with two tries to complete a 34-point personal haul.

Playing up the slope, Batley led 38-nil at half time in what coach Matt Diskin described as a 'near-perfect performance'. The victory hoisted Batley over the Eagles into sixth place, but after the game Diskin conceded that, despite the impressive nature of the win, his side's target for the 2017 season looked likely to be missed.

Speaking in the Batley News this week he said: “The top-four was our initial goal and it looks as though we’ve fallen short of that, but we want to finish as high as we can. We’ve gone above Sheffield now and we need to keep chipping away.”

Diskin will run the rule over injuries to Alex Rowe and Alistair Leak ahead of Sunday’s game - and Back rower Dane Manning is in line to play the 200th game of his career.

Having surprised everyone by making the Middle 8 last year, the Bulldogs have slipped backwards a bit, but continue to punch well above their weight in this competition.

As a club, Batley have a long and distinguished history that pre-dates the Northern Union and have the rare disctinction of still playing on their original ground. The Batley Cricket, Athletic and Football Club played its first game of 'rugby' against Bradford Zingari on the 2nd November 1880 at  'The Mount Ground' - a home win by 2 goals, 3 touchdowns, 2 dead balls and one touch goal to nil. Now that IS an interesting scoring system!

The dressing rooms used at this time were located at the Royal Hotel, Bradford Road and were quoted in the official handbook as being:  "8 minutes walk from the ground".

Hornets come into Sunday's game with confidence boosted by a convincing win over Bradford Bulls - and given the results of Wednesday evening's Championship fixtures, it was a timely two points. Midweek, Swinton crashed 36-2 at Featherstone and Dewsbury sneaked home at Oldham (16-20) as the the battle at the bottom of the Chamoionship tightened up considerably. There are now only three points between 8th and 11th - and Hornets yet to play Swinton at home and Dewsbury and Oldham away - so two points on Sunday would help maintain our slight cushion in 8th.

Certainly a performance resembling last week's effort would go a very long way to delivering this. And with Hornets unceremoniously robbed of victory by some frankly surrealist refereeing decisions at Mount Pleasant earlier in the year, payback would be nice. Thankfully, Mr Straw is ruining Swinton v Halifax, so at least we have a fair shot at it.

See you there.