Championship Match Report – Oldham 28-48 Batley

The Manchester Regional Athletics Arena played host to Kingstone Press Championship Rugby League as Oldham crashed 48-28 against Batley Bulldogs.

The visitors ended a five game losing sequence thanks to a dominant second half that only saw them concede in the last minute.

It would be fair to say that they didn’t start the game well, conceding a penalty on their first possession and Oldham made it count, softening the middle before switching the ball right for Scott Leatherbarrow to send Adam Clay over in the corner.

It was the first of a twenty minute hat-trick from the former Salford, Leigh and North Wales wing man. Leatherbarrow missed the conversion but Oldham led 4-0.

Batley conceded three more penalties which put Oldham on the front foot and smart play around the play the ball saw Kenny Hughes send prop Adam Neal under the posts.

Hughes turned from hero to zero on the next set, spilling the ball deep inside his own half and Batley opened their account in the ninth minute when Danny Cowling sailed through the line from James Davey’s pass after Dane Manning had set the position.

The Bulldogs scored again three minutes later when Joel Farrell stepped three times to cross under the posts and Cain Southernwood goaled to level matters at 10-all.

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs they fluffed their lines and handed Oldham possession 25 metres from their line.

Batley stood firm with Brambani flying out of the line but it was only delaying the inevitable and when George Tyson smuggled the ball out of a tackle, Clay cut back on the inside for his second try after 16 minutes. From wide on the right, Leatherbarrow goaled and Oldham led again 16-10.

There was no stopping Clay as he surged thirty metres on a kick return before a dummy and break came from Castleford loanee Tuoyo Egodo.

With the Bulldogs busted, confident handling by Danny Langtree brought a long ball and Clay went in for his third with just over 20 minutes played. Once again Leatherbarrow goaled and it was 22-10.

Batley coughed the ball up inside their own half after 24 minutes and Oldham went close to a fifth try when Michael Ward surged through the line only to throw a forward pass.

The Bulldogs battled back, forcing an error, Danny Cowling was brought down by a last ditch tackle and Cain Southernwood danced around in front of the posts before substitute Alastair Leak burrowed over. Southernwood goaled to close the deficit to six points.

Oldham lost their focus after 33 minutes and Batley punished them with Leak sending Adam Gledhill to the line, with Southernwood locking the game up at 22-all.

Both sides traded scruffy sets with a high tackle felling Egodo just as he looked set to break. Against type Leatherbarrow went for goal to nudge Oldham ahead once more but surprisingly missed. As consolation, the “home” side forced a drop-out and Leatherbarrow sliced a drop goal attempt wide.

Just before the break Brambani was sin-binned for a challenge deemed a trip by referee Andy Sweet after Richard Lepori broke into the backfield. The ensuing attack did not come off for Oldham. A high shot at the other end then gave Southernwood a free shot at goal but like Leatherbarrow, he too skewed the attempt wide to leave stalemate at the break.

Two minutes into the new half Batley took the lead for the first time when a big switch down the right saw Cowling send wing Wayne Reittie in at the corner. Southernwood converted via the upright and it was 28-22 to the Bulldogs.

Shaun Ainscough came up with a try saver on his own line and Batley effected a spell of really good defence to keep Oldham at bay for three consecutive sets.

Brambani returned from the sin-bin to run a clean line through the Oldham defence to put the Bulldogs twelve points clear on the back of Southernwood’s conversion and the visitors led 34-22.

The Bulldogs maintained their grip, forcing a drop out from Oldham despite Lepori’s best efforts and 55 minutes in they were certainly rocking. Joy returned from the bench to add a couple of big carries while Hughes added direction with Leatherbarrow’s short kick forcing a drop out.

Adam Neal came close to making a breakthrough but Batley chased back to force an error.

With over an hour gone, Oldham started to chase the game and Owen’s attempt to find Egodo only found the touchline. The luckless Joy was then led to the dressing room with a recurrence of his shoulder injury.

Southernwood added a penalty to nudge the Bulldogs in front and the game threatened to boil over when Tyson was penalised. It gave the position for Batley to launch another successful raid with James Harrison crashing through for Southernwood to put over his seventh goal.

Five minutes from the end Brambani spun into an opening drew Lepori and Tom Lillycrop was at his shoulder to collect the scoring pass. Southernwood kept up his excellent second half with the boot to make it 48-22 to the Bulldogs, completing a turnaround in fortunes.

There was just enough time for Brambani to receive a red card for dissent and Oldham had the last word when Danny Grimshaw slipped through for Leatherbarrow to goal. It wasn’t enough paper over what had been a poor second half for Oldham.

Oldham: Richard Lepori, Adam Clay, George Tyson, Danny Grimshaw, Tuoyo Egodo; Scott Leatherbarrow, Gareth Owen; Phil Joy, Kenny Hughes, Adam Neal, Michael Wood, Danny Langtree, Jack Spencer. Subs: Sam Gee, Michael Ward, Joe Burke Liam Bent.

Tries: Adam Clay 3, Adam Neal, Danny Grimshaw.
Goals: Scott Leatherbarrow 4/6.

Batley Bulldogs: David Scott, Wayne Reittie, Alex Bretherton, Danny Cowling, Shaun Ainscough; Cain Southernwood, Dominic Brambani; William Maher, James Davey, Tom Lillycrop, Dane Manning, Joel Farrell, Brad Day. Subs: Adam Gledhill, Alistair Leak, Joe Chandler, James Harrison.

Tries: Danny Cowling, Joel Farrell, Allastair Leak, Adam Gledhill, Wayne Reittie, Dominic Brambani, James Harrison.
Goals: Cain Southernwood 7/9.
Sin-binned: Dominic Brambani.
Sent-off: Dominic Brambani.

Attendance: 578.

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