Batley Bulldogs returned to winning ways with a five try success at Swinton Lions in a scrappy but at times intriguing game from the Kingstone Press Championship.
The first half saw the Bulldogs coming out on top, holding off a spirited riposte by Swinton in the second.
To be fair both teams made a solid start, completing early sets and kicking deep through Chris Atkin and Pat Walker.
Sensing something down the short side after six minutes, Cain Southernwood called for the ball but his pass for Wayne Reittie was ruled forward giving the Lions reprieve.
It was Gore’s turn to apply pressure as he thrice kicked forward. Swinton won a drop out and a penalty after Rhodri Lloyd was clocked high. Oliver Roberts had a try disallowed in the ninth minute due to a forward pass after nine minutes and the completions plummeted.
Shaun Robinson launched every inch of his frame at Danny Cowling and the knock disrupted Batley as they knocked on. Swinton also got a bit excited on their next possession, coughing play up after 13 minutes.
This scrappy period continued until a well placed kick from Pat Walker was fumbled by Robinson and opposite wing Shaun Ainscough grounded. Pat Walker goaled from wide out and it was 6-0 to Batley after 18 minutes.
An error from Alex Bretherton resulted in both an injury and a penalty to Swinton from the restart.
Rob Lever had a try disallowed for Swinton after being caught offside in pursuit of Atkins kick. Batley picked up the pace of their play-the-ball and twice moved within range without fully threatening.
The next scoring chance went the Bulldogs way after 25 minutes but Southernwood’s pass sailed harmlessly into touch.
Reittie broke to the home twenty and Batley threatened on the back of some destructive running from James Brown.
At the other end Mike Butt was penalised following a chip from Atkin.
Then 32 minutes in, a rare piece of skill by Alistair Leak saw the hooker open the defence for Brad Day to score the Bulldogs second try. Walker’s second goal made it 12-0 to the visitors.
Jack Murphy spilled a towering bomb and good shape put Batley on the front foot again. Southernwood was stopped ten metres out and Batley continued to pressure Swinton, eventually winning a drop out.
In the dying seconds of the first half Batley struck for a third time. Danny Cowling and Ainscough did the damage before Leak jinked over from close range. Although Walker missed the conversion the Bulldogs held a solid 16-0 advantage at half-time.
An injury to Gore appeared to dent the Lions chances but they responded superbly with a try after 43 minutes when Anthony Bate followed up an Atkin break for the try and Atkin goaled to make it 6-16. Batley let their discipline slip and Swinton marched down the ground again.
A clever kick to the corner from Atkin almost brought points, although Butt couldn’t ground while more good work from Brown and Ainscough took Batley inside the Swinton half. Butt saw another difficult chance go through his fingers when Bate and Atkin combined.
Batley converted a superb scoring chance after 51 minutes as Walker, Dave Scott and James Harrison were involved in the move left for Cowling to score their fourth try. Walker made it 22-6 with the boot. Batley defended their try line superbly.
Swinton reached the line on the hour mark but Chris Hankinson was unable to ground. Swinton kept on the pressure but they failed to take advantage of Ainscough being out of play, instead bringing play to their left. Smeaton intercepted Atkins pass and ran eighty metres to score. That try went unconverted but Batley now led 26-6.
When Batley then lost the ball close to the Swinton line, Ben White ran on and found the supporting Robinson who was then tracked down by Ainscough. Atkin then found Smeaton with another pass and the composed Bulldogs came out from their own half.
As the game approached the final ten minutes Swinton came forward through Liam Carberry and Ben White but Batley held firm again.
A third intercept went the way of Smeaton but his intended pass for Reittie had the experienced winger diving forward and the chance came to nought.
Swinton gave their fans a glimmer of hope seven minutes from time with a flowing move involving Anthony Nicholson, Ben White and Oliver Davies before Andy Bracek sailed to the posts. White goaled to make it 12-26 and play became tetchy in the final minutes with a number of ongoing spats eventually resulting in Bate and Tom Lillycrop being sin-binned.
With the extra space Murphy went downfield but again Swinton couldn’t take advantage and there was just enough time for Batley to squander a chance when Southernwood broke but his pass for Harrison drifted forward. It didn’t matter and the Bulldogs returned to winning ways by 26-12.
Swinton Lions: Jack Murphy, Shaun Robinson, Chris Hankinson, Ben White, Mike Butt; Grant Gore, Chris Atkin; Andy Bracek, Luke Waterworth, Josh Barlow, Rhodri Lloyd, Oliver Davies, Rob Lever. Subs: Ben Austin, Liam Carberry, Anthony Nicholson, Anthony Bate.
Tries: Anthony Bate, Andy Bracek.
Goals: Chris Atkin 1, Ben White 1.
Batley Bulldogs: Dave Scott, Wayne Reittie, Sam Smeaton, Danny Cowling, Shaun Ainscough; Pat Walker, Cain Southernwood; Adam Gledhill, James Davey, Tom Lillycrop, Dane Manning, Alex Bretherton, Brad Day. Subs: Alistair Leak, James Brown, Alex Rowe, James Harrison.
Tries: Shaun Ainscough, Brad Day, Alistair Leak, Danny Cowling, Sam Smeaton.
Goals: Pat Walker 3.