Featherstone Rovers v Batley Bulldogs – Both sides suffered defeats at Blackpool last weekend so this Sunday’s match will see two teams that are willing to fight till the end to get a victory and get back on the winning trail.
Last Time Out
Ill-tempered has been the word for many people to describe the Featherstone-Leigh match last Sunday. Unfortunately, there’s no way anyone can disagree with that. The game was 11v11 going into the final ten minutes after a sending off for Paul Wood and a sin-binning for Gareth Moore of Featherstone while Liam Kay and Gareth Hock both were sin-binned for Leigh. Bob Beswick also entered the sin-bin, but that was at the same time as Wood being given his marching orders. Now for the actual rugby! Ben Blackmore got Featherstone off to a great start with a try in the first two minutes. Gregg McNally notched the equalising score for Leigh in the tenth minute before the game erupted as Wood was sent off and Beswick sin-binned. Martyn Ridyard took the two points from the ensuing penalty to give Leigh a slight advantage. McNally had his brace with seven minutes of the first half remaining, and on the hooter Ryan Brierley kicked a drop-goal to make the half-time score 15-6 in favour of the Lancashire side. Former Featherstone three-quarter Greg Worthington got the second half underway with a try for the Centurions. Two minutes later and Micky Higham had a debut score to celebrate, then six minutes later McNally brought up his hat-trick which made the lead insurmountable beyond measure. Ian Hardman got a consolation score on 73 minutes for Featherstone.
Batley lost out to rivals Dewsbury in the first game of the second day of proceedings in Blackpool. Scott Hale and Brad Day swapped scores for Dewsbury and Batley as the opening quarter went by and the teams couldn’t be separated. An Aaron Brown try proved to be the difference going into half-time as the loose forward touched down with five minutes spare. Alex Brown cut four points off the lead soon after half-time when he made something out of virtually nothing, taking in a rather drab cross-field kick but then bamboozling the Rams defenders on his way to the chalk. Scott Leatherbarrow missed the conversion to level things but he did kick a penalty goal later on down the line to make the score 12-12. A great try from Dalton Grant put the Rams into a driving seat which they wouldn’t be removed from. Anthony Thackeray made sure of the victory with a drop-goal with two minutes left on the clock.
One thing people learnt at the Summer Bash was that Featherstone have a rather mean pack of forwards. They can match any in the league but they will have a challenge on their hands this week when John Kear sends his Batley Bulldogs out to battle at the Big Fellas Stadium. Adam Gledhill and Alex Rowe were the starting props for Batley against Dewsbury, plus they had big players on the interchange in the shape of Tom Lillycrop and Keegan Hirst. The power to create platforms was evident for Batley, but the execution of dangerous attacks weren’t. For Featherstone, their prop forwards against Leigh consisted of Jordan Baldwinson and Paul Wood as the starters while Andy Bostock, Garreth Carvell and Ryan Verlinden were all sat on the interchange. I don’t think they’ll be as many fireworks this weekend but there will certainly be some almighty collisions.
Featherstone start the weekend in 5th place, only being denied the fourth spot by virtue of points difference. Now they’re back on home turf after a trip to the seaside, Andy Hay’s men will be backing themselves to get back to winning ways with a vengeance. Batley currently occupy 9th spot in the Championship, and could do with getting a win on the board to bring their points tally to double figures for the season. A win at Featherstone is a good achievement for a part-time side, Batley have done it before in the playoff series of 2013, but the Rovers should gain the spoils this time around – Featherstone by 14