Batley Bulldogs 24-24 Bradford Bulls – Another thriller at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium as a last minute penalty goal from Pat Walker snatched a point away from Bradford Bulls. Going uphill in the first half, the visitors hit the front through Omari Caro after ten minutes and his try was converted by Danny Addy. The Bulldogs did bite back soon after through Chris Ulugia, who is currently on a season long loan at Batley from Bradford. Pat Walker converted, as he did just over five minutes later following a superb try by Dave Scott. However, the Bulls finished the half in a flourish as back-rowers Dale Ferguson and Jay Pitts both found their way over the whitewash. The tries were converted and Bradford led 18-12 at the break. Pitts registered his second try of the game after the restart and there was real danger that Batley were going to suffer their first defeat on home turf in 2016. But, with two consecutive tries going their way, John Kear’s side far from gave up. Keegan Hirst and Alex Brown were the try-scorers, but the latter’s four pointer wasn’t converted which meant the hosts still trailed by two points. A penalty was awarded to Batley pretty much as the hooter sounded and Walker had a chance to nick a point with a goal from 35 metres out. Despite a number of Bradford fans celebrating behind the goal posts, the two touch judges raised their flags and the Bulldogs had clawed their way up the slope to win a point. The character in the Batley side just cannot be questioned.
Prediction – Bradford by 6
Result – Draw
Halifax 18-26 Leigh Centurions – The Centurions made up for their horrible loss to Halifax in the Qualifiers last season by beating them at The Shay on Sunday. Only one try was scored in the first half and it went the way of the hosts, and Tommy Saxton. Steve Tyrer converted but the defences were firmly on top in the opening half. Leigh came out of the blocks firing in the second period and Reni Maitua pulled four points back on 43 minutes. Martyn Ridyard didn’t add the extras. A response was needed from Fax and they provided just that courtesy of an Adam Tangata try as the hour mark approached. Tyrer converted for a 12-4 lead. The final quarter belonged to Neil Jukes’ Leigh as three tries in 11 minutes won them the game outright. Lee Smith, Gareth Hock and Micky Higham all touched down for converted tries before Ridyard extended the Centurions’ advantage to 24-12 thanks to a a penalty goal with three minutes remaining. Connor Robinson replied a minute later with a converted try of his own, the aftermath saw Hock and Dane Manning head to the sin-bin. Another Ridyard penalty goal was kicked as the hooter sounded to round off a jam-packed final 20 minutes which saw the visitors emerge victorious.
Prediction – Leigh by 12
Result – Leigh by 8
London Broncos 22-18 Dewsbury Rams – All good sides find a way to win and London are doing exactly that at the Trailfinders Sports Ground in 2016. They are currently unbeaten in Ealing and this win will go down as a very satisfying one against a Dewsbury side who can cause problems against any team. The Rams were 12-10 up at half-time as tries from Dalton Grant and Jason Crookes were both converted while London’s four pointers both came from Rhys Williams, but Wes Naiqama could only add the extras to the first try. The opening try of the second half came nearly 20 minutes in as London went in front for the first time. William Barthau showed great creativity to grubber the ball to himself and dive over the whitewash. Naiqama converted to make it 16-12 to the hosts. Seven minutes later and London had extended their advantage thanks to consistent back-rower Matt Garside, who powered his way over. Naiqama converted again but the Fijian was sent to the sin bin a few minutes later after an altercation. On the 77th minute, Dewsbury made sure the conclusion of the tie was going to be a nail-biter as Kyle Trout picked up a kick over the top on his way to the try-line. Paul Sykes converted to make it a four point game at 22-18 but there was to be no more points scored, to the delight of the home fans who had seen their Broncos side go to the top of the Championship tree on Saturday night.
Prediction – London by 14
Result – London by 4
Sheffield Eagles 24-26 Whitehaven – Sheffield Eagles were defeated 26-24 by Whitehaven at the SHU Sports Park on Saturday.
First blood went to the Eagles on four minutes after early pressure got the hosts into a good position. Rob Worrincy kept up his impressive scoring streak with the opening try of the game after some quick ball playing to the corner. Michael Knowles couldn’t convert. It took just four minutes for Haven to reply through Craig Calvert. Like the Eagles’ first try, some slick passing to the corner set the winger up to touch down. John-Paul Brocklebank hit the post with his conversion attempt. The early exchanges of tries continued in the moments following Calvert’s score. A cross-field kick from Cory Aston landed in the grateful hands of Worrincy who did the rest as Sheffield regained advantage. Once more, the conversion attempt was off. The game then calmed down for a bit as both sides seemed to get their defence in order for a short time. Whitehaven made it 8-8 just before the half-hour mark, and it was that man Calvert who did the damage. Brocklebank couldn’t tag on the extras and there was a change of kicker for the next Haven try, which came near enough on the hooter as Elliot Miller crossed the whitewash. Louis Jouffret was the man with the kicking tee for the visitors’ third try but he had no luck finding the target either. Sheffield were 12-8 down going into half-time.
The first couple of tries in the second half were always going to be important, and it came as a damning blow to Sheffield that Whitehaven got both of them. Scott McAvoy got his name on the scoresheet after 47 minutes when he capitalised on an Eagles mistake, then three minutes later Miller grabbed his second try of the game. The match seemed to be slowly going away from the Eagles with every blow that was coming their way. Neither try was converted so there was only 12 points between the sides at 20-8. Just before the tie entered its final quarter, Sheffield got themselves back into contention thanks to Knowles powering over the line. He converted his own try and suddenly it was game on again. However, Whitehaven hit back when Liam Carberry scrambled his way to four points from dummy-half. Ed Chamberlain was on target with his conversion attempt and he made the score 26-14 to the visitors with just under 15 minutes to go. Worrincy completed his hat-trick with six minutes of the match left to play as he showed great determination to beat a number of defenders on his way to the try-line. Aston couldn’t convert so there was still eight points to make up in the dying embers of the clash. Four minutes were remaining in the match when Mark Mexico made a great break in the midfield and found the supporting Quentin Laulu-Togagae who scored underneath the sticks. The conversion was good and the Eagles were forcing the issue for the winner but couldn’t quite register the decisive score.
Prediction – Sheffield by 16
Result – Whitehaven by 2
Swinton Lions 10-30 Featherstone Rovers – Swinton’s first game at their new Heywood Road home ended in defeat to Featherstone. Despite scoring three tries in the first half, Featherstone only held a 12-0 lead as all the scores went unconverted. Scott Turner, Ian Hardman and Kyran Johnson were the try-scorers for the visitors, who didn’t look too troubled in the match this afternoon. Jamie Cording got himself on the scoresheet shortly after the restart and Briggs was on target from the tee. Former Sheffield half-back Briggs bagged a try on the hour mark as the Lions started to tire. He added the extras to his own try. Mike Morrison was sin-binned during the final quarter for Swinton but they were only to concede one more try in the match, which came from Anthony Thackeray. A Briggs conversion brought 30 points up for a Featherstone side who seem to gradually be getting better. The Lions ended the match with two tries from Macauley Hallett and Chris Atkin but the damage had already been done in the previous 70 minutes of action.
Prediction – Featherstone by 14
Result – Featherstone by 20
Workington Town 23-12 Oldham Roughyeds – Workington picked up their first win of the season on Sunday when they overcame Oldham at the Zebra Claims Stadium. It was the Roughyeds who notched first through new signing Gary Middlehurst but three tries on the spin from Town gave them a healthy advantage heading into the break. Jarrod Sammut crossed the whitewash twice before full-back Jack Murphy also got in on the act. The second half was a very close contest to say the least and it took till the 71st minute for the first try of the final 40 minutes to be scored. Phil Joy bundled his way over the line to give Oldham more than a glimmer of hope. The conversion was good and, at 16-12 to Town, the Roughyeds were in striking distance. But the hosts played the game out safely, with a penalty goal from Forber and a drop goal from Sammut extending the lead to two scores and easing nerves in the process. The final minute of the match saw Chris Murphy add gloss to the scoreline for Workington, who will be looking to push on from their first victory of 2016.
Prediction – Workington by 8
Result – Workington by 11