Both Heavy Woollen sides will fancy their chances of a top four finish in the Kingstone Press Championship this season, and they have got their respective campaigns off to a decent start. Dewsbury are currently in seventh place and Batley, having only lost one game, sit second. The Rams and Bulldogs fought off fellow Championship opposition last week to get through to the fifth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.
Last Time Out
Dewsbury Rams defeated Bradford Bulls 31-30 at Tetley’s Stadium courtesy of a Paul Sykes drop goal with seven minutes of the match remaining. It was Bradford who started the better of the two sides, and they scored the first try of the game through Omari Caro. Dewsbury hit back in style, though, with three tries in a row thanks to a lone Dalton Grant try and a Dale Morton double. An 18-4 lead after half an hour will have pleased coach Glenn Morrison but two tries by the visitors to finish off the half kept the full-time side in close contact with the Rams. Joe Lumb and Danny Addy were the try-scorers as the deficit was cut to two points, 18-16, at the interval. The opening try of the second half went the way of Rams prop Jack Teanby, and his four pointer was converted so there was a bit more room to breath for the hosts. However, the run of tries that Bradford went on in the first half was replicated in the second period and they went ahead as a result of two tries from Matty Blythe and a lone score from Tom Olbison. A 30-24 lead couldn’t be held on to by the visitors as they caved into heavy Dewsbury pressure with ten minutes to go. Loose forward, and Man of the Match, Aaron Brown touched down for a very important try and Sykes levelled the game with a conversion. Former Bradford player Sykes was in the thick of the action moments later when he kicked a drop goal which turned out to be the difference between the two sides come the final hooter.
A back-and-forth clash at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium went the way of Batley Bulldogs, who beat Whitehaven 37-36 to progress in the Challenge Cup. Batley started the scoring through Alex Brown before three consecutive tries for Whitehaven opened up a 18-6 lead after 22 minutes. Louis Jouffret, Chris Taylor and Liam Carberry all notched four pointers for the Cumbrians as they went into a two score advantage. But, as they have done all season thus far, Batley hit back with a vengeance and they managed to head to the sheds at half-time with the lead. James Davey, Alex Rowe and Wayne Reittie were the try-scorers to get the Bulldogs back in front by six points at the interval. Rowe doubled his tally for the game just four minutes after the restart as the Bulldogs strived to gain an insurmountable advantage. Whitehaven’s Grant Gore and Batley’s Joe Chandler exchanged converted tries with the final quarter coming over the horizon. The score read 36-24 to the hosts before Haven levelled matters with a quick fire double. James Newton and Connor Holliday both got over the try line for converted four pointers and the match was finely poised with 15 minutes remaining. A drop goal from Dom Brambani on 75 minutes proved to be the difference as the Bulldogs triumphed.
A lot has been said about the impact of Dom Brambani and Pat Walker in their short time at the Bulldogs. The former Dewsbury duo have been at the forefront of everything good to do with Batley this year and, in their first Heavy Woollen derby against their old club, they will be looking to carry on in the same vein of form. Walker, who has moved from a regular half-back to a loose forward over the past few years, will go up against Aaron Brown who has become one of the best back-rowers in the Championship. While the loss of loanee Ben Reynolds to Leigh will hit the Rams hard, there’s good utility in the squad and last week’s half-back partnership of Paul Sykes and Dom Speakman will get better in time if coach Glenn Morrison gives them a chance to prosper.
Expect a high intensity battle in this year’s Heavy Woollen Good Friday clash. With Dewsbury wanting to catch up to their neighbours, who are currently hitting it up with the big boys in the second tier, this match couldn’t have come at a better time for the Rams. Batley go into the match wanting to fix up their defence after leaking 36 points against Whitehaven and coach John Kear will have got his troops psyched up for the challenge ahead – Batley by 12