Sunday afternoon saw Championship side Batley Bulldogs host North Wales Crusaders of League 1. Anthony Murray’s Crusaders had a brilliant afternoon at Mount Pleasant, recording a 30-20 victory over the Bulldogs with half-backs Karl Ashall and Jamie Dallimore starring. The best of the Batley bunch included centre Shaun Squires and prop forward Alex Rowe.
Jono Smith got North Wales on the board in the early stages of the game, the assist came from Dallimore who created some great openings throughout. Tommy Johnson couldn’t add the extras. Batley replied just shy of the 20 minute mark, a Cain Southernwood bomb was fumbled by Turner and Lee Mitchell was the beneficiary of his mistake. Southernwood converted to give Batley a slender lead. Two tries in the last five minutes of the half gave the visitors the advantage as both sets of players headed for the sheds. Rob Massam burst over after an Ashall pass, then Turner made up for his bomb fumbling by catching one from his own team with Ashall, once more, assisting. Johnson converted one of the two tries, 14-6 to the Crusaders at the halfway point.
The start of the second half mirrored the first, Jono Smith forced his way over the Batley line from dummy half. Johnson converted and 20-6 was the score which pleased the Crusaders’ boisterous fans. A try was needed for Batley and they got exactly that through Wayne Reittie on the 50th minute, following a deft grubber from Shaun Ainscough. When Batley looked like they were on the comeback trail, they were hit with a sucker punch as Turner notched his brace with a similar try to his first. The Crusaders winger plucked the ball out of the air to touch down after Declan Patton did the directing with the boot. Despite his knock-on in the first half, Turner looked a real threat and was very comfortable under the high ball. Wayne Reittie burst forward as he tried to spark some life back into the Bulldogs team, he was hacked down by Gene Ormsby who was sin-binned for a professional foul. Shaun Squires scored his first of the day two minutes after Ormsby’s exit, making perfect use of the man advantage. Southernwood couldn’t convert, and the score read 24-14 to the League 1 side with 15 minutes left to play. The Crusaders extinguished any hope of a Batley comeback on the 68th minute when Patton, yet again, chipped towards Turner, the winger knocked the ball backwards into the grateful hands of Stuart Reardon who did the rest. Ian Mort converted his first, and last, conversion of the game. Squires registered his brace in the dying embers of the encounter, former Whitehaven half-back Southernwood converted for the final points of the clash.
30-20 to North Wales at full-time, not the best end to a rather successful preseason for John Kear’s Batley. Maybe it’ll be a blessing in disguise for the Bulldogs, a nice wakeup call never hurt anyone in preseason. The Bulldogs play Workington Town in their first match of the Championship season on the 15th February
For the Crusaders, this was their second preseason triumph from three games. The League 1 campaign starts in April but all the sides in the third tier have League 1 Cup and Challenge Cup games to fulfil before the league kicks off.