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Kingstone Press Championship Round 19 – Bradford Bulls v Batley Bulldogs Preview

The Provident Stadium hosts this round 19 matchup, and Bradford Bulls will be hoping for a more smoother game against the Bulldogs than what happened at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium. Bradford managed to scrape home 26-19 after a stern test to say the very least.

Last Time Out

Bradford travelled up to Cumbria for a showdown with Phil Veivers’ Workington Town. After a tight first half, which saw the visitors take a 16-10 lead into the sheds, Bradford put on the burners during a nine minute stint when they scored four tries. Adam Henry notched a first half brace, and Adam Sidlow scored a single to give their side a 16-0 advantage before Sam Powell replied for Workington with a swift double. Only being six points down after 40 minutes was a good achievement for Town, especially after such a pasting the week before on home turf against Featherstone. The score stayed at 16-10 for quite some time during the second half before Jake Mullaney crossed the chalk to extend the Bulls’ lead to two scores. Ephalame Lauaki and Danny Williams also contributed to respective four pointers before Mullaney completed his brace to round off a great second half scoring spurt for his team.

Batley, similar to Bradford, had a Sunday trip to Cumbria but the Bulldogs were facing Workington’s rivals Whitehaven. John Kear’s Bulldogs had a brilliant opportunity to create some breathing space between themselves and the relegation zone but, unfortunately for the West Yorkshire side, they ended up in the drop zone after the end of play courtesy of a 24-12 Whitehaven win. At one stage in the first half, the hosts were down to 11 men after sin-binnings for wingers Jordan Sigismeau and Craig Calvert but Batley still couldn’t muster any points. Grant Gore and Calvert both had tries to celebrate by the 14th minute, therefore putting Batley on the back foot. Calvert had been back on the field for three minutes after his stint in the sin-bin when he completed his brace. However, after the break, former Haven three-quarter Shaun Ainscough put Batley back on the road with a try which was converted by Scott Leatherbarrow. Louis Jouffret made sure Whitehaven’s three score lead came back when the French full-back sauntered in on 61 minutes. Joe Chandler scored a consolation with nine minutes remaining. A damning day for the Bulldogs who will be wanting to get out of the relegation zone as soon as possible.

Key Battle

With Cain Southernwood back in contention for a starting spot in the Bulldogs’ lineup, coach John Kear can now pick his strongest half-back options in their desired positions. Southernwood made his comeback from the interchange last weekend at Whitehaven, but may start next to Scott Leatherbarrow in the halves in round 19. It’ll take a while for the Southernwood-Leatherbarrow partnership to really prosper but getting back out on the field together will certainly help the cause. For Bradford, there was no Lee Gaskell so his absence left Harry Siejka to pair up with Danny Addy in the halves. Addy, a usual back-rower, has played in the halves for most of 2015 and he hasn’t done too bad which goes to show how important utility value is.

Prediction

Bradford will be coming into this game as heavy favourites, and it’d take one massive performance by Batley to topple the Bulls. James Lowes will be wanting his side to have only lost one game come their tie with Leigh Centurions at the Provident Stadium on the 19th July, and they shouldn’t have much problem here – Bradford by 26

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