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Kingstone Press Championship Round 22 – Batley Bulldogs v Hunslet Hawks Preview

After both sides were defeated in round 21, who will bounce back with a win at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium this weekend? Batley were one try away from upsetting Halifax last weekend but couldn’t quite get that decisive try, whilst Hunslet were the first team to be beaten by Doncaster this season.

Last Time Out

Batley faced Halifax at The Shay. John Kear’s Bulldogs knew how hard the task in hand would be due to Fax’s brilliant recent form, but they certainly gave it a good dig before losing 25-22. Only two tries were scored in the opening period, both went the way of Halifax through Ben Johnston and Adam Robinson. The deficit was cut in half when Brad Day muscled his way over the chalk for the visitors. However, tries from James Saltonstall and Johnston extended Halifax’s lead in the final quarter before a mini-revival from Batley took place in the last ten minutes. Wayne Reittie and Keegan Hirst both touched down within three minutes of each other to bring Batley back in contention at 24-18 down. Halifax half-back Scott Murrell slotted over a drop-goal to extinguish hope of a shock win for the visitors but it didn’t deter Batley during the tie as Reittie got his second score in the dying embers. But Fax did enough to win and keep their top four challenge on track.

Hunslet Hawks looked to be well in control of their match with Doncaster during the second half as Callum Casey strolled over for a 26-6 lead after 50 minutes but Gary Thornton’s hosts showed a barrel load of enthusiasm to get back in the match and complete a ‘smash and grab’ victory. Hunslet went into half-time with a 8-6 advantage after tries from Danny Maun and Matty Gee overshadowed Joe McLocklan’s debut score for Doncaster. Three tries in the first 11 minutes of the second half put Hunslet into a brilliant position. Richie Barnett used his pace to burn his way to the try line before Gee completed his brace. Casey made light work of Doncaster’s defence on 51 minutes but nobody could envisage that it’d be the final score of the game for Hunslet as the hosts put on a very entertaining performance for the remainder. Peter Fox, Mitch Clark and Steve Snitch all got on the scoresheet as the game entered the final quarter, and during that 20 minute spell leading to full-time Doncaster notched two more tries. Paul Mennell levelled matters on 66 minutes before Dave Scott missed a conversion from in front of the sticks, however it didn’t cost the Dons as Matt Groat powered over the whitewash to win the game for Doncaster on 73 minutes. Dave Scott’s penalty goal with two minutes remaining put the icing on top of a very sweet Dons cake.

Key Battle

The half-back partnership of Cain Southernwood and Scott Leatherbarrow hasn’t really had chance to prosper in 2015 due to an injury suffered by the former earlier on in the campaign. They both took to the field together last weekend against Halifax and held themselves well against high quality opposition in the shape of Ben Johnston and Scott Murrell. For Hunslet, they fielded Simon Brown and Andy Kain in the halves. Both players are Championship stalwarts and know what it takes to win a game for their side but Doncaster’s fightback proved too strong for Hunslet to deal with.

Prediction

This all West Yorkshire battle could prove to be vital for both side’s survival hopes. Batley will go into this weekend’s match with their head held high after last week’s close loss to Halifax, whilst Hunslet will be licking their wounds after a disappointing afternoon in South Yorkshire – Batley by 12

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