Both sides responded to defeats in round two by gaining victories last weekend. These two West Yorkshire sides are definite contenders for top four finishes this season so, even this early on in the campaign, Sunday’s match is definitely a big one.
Last Time Out
Halifax kept Workington Town to a blank at a very muddy Zebra Claims Stadium. ‘Fax won the match 20-0 and they scored all of the four tries in the match, therefore bouncing back well after a loss to Sheffield Eagles. Two tries were scored in each half, with Jake Eccleston and Ryan Maneely notching in the first half before the forwards took charge in the final 40 minutes. Luke Ambler and Dane Manning both scored tries to make sure that the spoils were heading back to The Shay.
Batley Bulldogs picked up another feather for their ever growing cap by beating Sheffield Eagles at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium. Despite going into half-time 8-6 down the Bulldogs stayed tight in defence and attacking down the slope with precision, scoring two second half tries and adding a penalty goal to come out with a 20-8 triumph. Menzie Yere put the visitors in front after nine minutes but Dom Brambani found his way over the whitewash at the other end a short while later. Another Papua New Guinea international, Garry Lo, got on the scoresheet for the Eagles with a try in the corner on 28 minutes. Six minutes into the second half came the Bulldogs’ second score of the afternoon which went the way of Brambani once more. That seemed to be the turning point as Sheffield couldn’t get their heads up to force a reply and Alistair Leak extended Batley’s advantage as the match entered its final quarter. A Pat Walker penalty goal made it a two score game and that was the final scoring act of the contest as the Bulldogs celebrated another great home victory.
It has been said many times before but the Halifax and Batley forward packs are two of the meanest you will come across in the second tier. Mitch Cahalane and Luke Ambler have struck up a great partnership in the ‘Fax midfield while Batley’s Keegan Hirst and James Brown are also consistent performers at this level. Jacob Fairbank and Richard Moore added firepower off the bench for Halifax at the weekend and Batley had Tom Lillycrop, Adam Gledhill and Alex Rowe starting on the interchange. The prop forwards of both sides will be going in all guns blazing as they look to guide their respective team to what may turn out to be an important victory in the grand scheme of things.
Batley’s first away match of the season came against Featherstone and they lost out by two points. Their home games haven’t been the easiest either but they have beaten Leigh and Sheffield so it’s fair to say they’ve handled their tough opening schedule very well thus far. Halifax, like Batley, have won two out of their first three games but wins on home turf will help their top four chase tenfold and this Sunday’s tie is no exception. A very hard game to call with both sides battle-hardened after tough matches in round three – Halifax by 8