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Kingstone Press Championship Round 21 – Halifax v Batley Bulldogs Preview

After so long away from The Shay, this will be Halifax’s second consecutive home match and they will be hoping for a replay of last week’s match with Sheffield if anything. Batley go into this weekend after a victory against Doncaster at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium, will John Kear’s men shock Halifax at the weekend?

Last Time Out

Despite going 6-0 down in the early stages, Halifax were the better team throughout their clash with third placed Sheffield Eagles last weekend. Kyle Briggs opened the scoring for the Eagles but the hosts more than cancelled out that score with tries of their own from Tommy Saxton, Ben Heaton and Dane Manning during the first half. Manning started the second half in the same way he finished the first; with a try. The back-rower swopped over the chalk on 41 minutes and that set the tone for a stellar second half. Mitch Stringer replied for the hosts before the final quarter came around, a final quarter which brought three Halifax tries with it. Ben Kaye touched down on the hour before Connor Robinson rounded off a good day for his side with a brace.

Batley got the better of Doncaster in round 20 with a 34-6 scoreline going their way. The Bulldogs kept the Dons scoreless during the first half, the score after 40 minutes was 24-0 after five tries for Batley. Alex Brown, Shaun Squires, Tom Lillycrop and Wayne Reittie on two occasions found the whitewash for a Batley side who were in need of a win to keep themselves above the relegation zone. Only three tries were scored in the second half, two for the hosts and one for the visitors. Cain Southernwood and Squires again got on the scoresheet before former Batley utility man Paul Mennell got Doncaster on the scoreboard three minutes from time.

Key Battle

Both sides have brilliant front-rowers to choose from, and that battle will be a great one to witness at The Shay this Sunday. Adam Tangata and Mitch Cahalane have both been in great form over the past month or so, and the same can be said for Adam Robinson. The forwards have laid numerous platforms for half-backs Scott Murrell and Ben Johnston to attack off, and it’s been working a treat as of late. For Batley, Keegan Hirst and Sean Hesketh both started against Doncaster with hefty reinforcements on the bench in the shape of Tom Lillycrop and Alex Rowe. Irrespective of whether this game will boil over or not, the prop forwards of both sides bring a lot of determination and fight to the table and that’s something fans love to see.

Prediction

Nobody can seem to stop Halifax at this moment in time but Batley will be wanting to break that trend and repeat their victory at The Shay from 2014. But, even with a win under their belts from round 20, the Bulldogs go into the tie as underdogs although it’s a tag they’ve relished in the past – Halifax by 16

I study Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland. Write about the Kingstone Press Championship for a few websites, as well as doing match reports and previews for Sheffield Eagles.

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