After an interesting first round of matches in European rugby league’s second tier, we take a look at some of the biggest highlights of the weekend. I think you may know where we’re going to start..
Batley show guts to conquer Centurions
The biggest shock result in the whole 2016 Kingstone Press Championship may well have come in the first round of matches. Inspired by Chris Ulugia, Dom Brambani and James Brown, John Kear’s Bulldogs beat Leigh 24-22 at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium. With the hosts going up the ‘Mount Pleasant’ slope in the first half, they will have been more than content at half-time as the score read 12-12. However, tries from Micky Higham and Ryan Brierley within 11 minutes of each other put Neil Jukes’ side out in front heading into the final quarter. Then came the true Bulldog spirit. Ulugia and Shaun Ainscough both crossed the whitewash to bring Batley level before Pat Walker slotted over a penalty goal to win the match with just under two minutes remaining.
Cumbrian sides get off to poor start
Both Whitehaven and Workington Town lost their opening round ties to Halifax and Sheffield Eagles respectively. ‘Haven travelled to The Shay with hope of giving the West Yorkshire side a fright but that didn’t occur at all. Richard Marshall’s side registered 52 points in the tie while Whitehaven could only muster six. Steve Tyrer was undoubtedly the Man of the Match for ‘Fax. The centre recorded 32 points, equalling John Schuster’s record for most points scored by a Halifax player in a game. Workington were defeated on home turf against Sheffield 42-12. ‘Town were 24-6 down at the break but any hope of a comeback was extinguished when Matty Fozard bagged a double for the Eagles. ‘Haven host Bradford on Saturday, Workington travel to Dewsbury a day later.
Championship newbies put up a fight
Despite not registering any points against London Broncos, Oldham were in with a shout for quite some time. Only 4-0 down after the first 40 minutes, Scott Naylor will have just been looking for his Roughyeds outfit to up the intensity in attack while the defence stayed solid. However, as the part-timers tired, London took advantage and scored three tries to see out the win. At the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford, home of the Swinton Lions for the first match of this season while Sedgley Park gets improved to meet ground standards, the newly promoted side came within seven minutes of a victory. A Josh Guzdek hat-trick for the Rams was Swinton’s main downfall and the former Hull KR man scored the winner in the dying embers of the contest. Coach John Duffy will be optimistic in his side’s potential as they travel down to London next weekend. Oldham make the dreaded journey to Leigh, who will be wanting to rack up as many points as possible in front of a home crowd.
Top try-scorers after round 1..
4 – Steve Tyrer (Halifax)
3 – Omari Caro (Bradford)
3 – Josh Guzdek (Dewsbury)
2 – Chris Ulugia (Batley)
2 – Greg Wilde (Swinton)
2 – Rob Lever (Swinton)
2 – Cory Aston (Sheffield)
2 – Matty Fozard (Sheffield)