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Batley Bulldogs v Swinton Lions Preview

Last weekend saw Batley Bulldogs progress to the next round of the Challenge Cup after beating fellow West Yorkshire side Featherstone Rovers. Swinton Lions had a week off so they’ll be fresh for their visit to the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium.

Last Time Out

Batley Bulldogs beat Featherstone 28-10 on home turf in the fifth round of the Challenge Cup. It was the visitors who had a slender advantage at the break as both sides headed into the sheds with the scoreline 6-4 to the Rovers. Shaun Squires opened the scoring for the Bulldogs before Misi Taulapapa replied with an unconverted try of his own on 24 minutes. A penalty goal from Kyran Johnson was the difference between the two sides after the first half. A barrage of four tries in six minutes for Batley flipped the game on its head as the final quarter arrived. James Harrison, Shaun Ainscough, Dom Brambani and Cain Southernwood all touched down for John Kear’s side. Featherstone were shellshocked but they did grab a consolation through Jamie Cording after 72 minutes. A Pat Walker penalty goal for the hosts rounded off a great day as the Bulldogs booked their place in the draw for the next round.

Swinton’s last game was an absolute thriller as they came out 38-35 winners over Halifax in the Championship. Fax scored the first three tries of the game inside ten minutes courtesy of Miles Greenwood, Sam Smeaton and Jake Eccleston. Swinton’s prospects in the match were looking rather bleak but, to their credit, John Duffy’s side never gave up and they notched the next two scores to cut the deficit to just six points. Winger Liam Marshall got on the scoresheet with both four pointers on what would turn out to be a brilliant afternoon for the youngster. Brandon Moore and Greenwood were next over the whitewash for Fax as the half was nearing its conclusion. Josh Barlow did reply for the Lions minutes later to make the score 28-16 at half-time. Two tries in three minutes brought the visitors back to within four points of Halifax in the opening stages of the second period. Marshall completed his hat-trick before Chris Atkin got in on the act as Swinton were eying up a shock. A big try in the final quarter went the way of Halifax’s Ben Kaye and the potential upset looked even further away for the Championship newbies. The setback didn’t deter them one bit, though, as two successive tries levelled matters to set up a frantic finish. Macauley Hallett and Shaun Robinson both crossed the chalk and, with eight minutes remaining, it was all to play for at 34-34. A Gareth Moore drop goal looked to have won the game for the West Yorkshire side in the dying embers but there was one last twist in the tale as Marshall grabbed his fourth try of proceedings with a minute left to play. A quite unbelievable finish which perfectly summed up the unpredictability of the Championship.

Key Battle

It’s hard not to talk about the feat of Liam Marshall against Halifax when Swinton come into the conversation. The winger has had an impressive start to life on dual-registration with the Lions from Wigan Warriors and a four-try haul in his last match certainly helped his reputation with the fans. Swinton’s other winger against Fax, Shaun Robinson, also got on the scoresheet that day and he will be hoping to keep his tally rolling when his side face Batley. The Bulldogs have been performing above all expectations this year and their wingers – Alex Brown and Shaun Ainscough (against Featherstone) – have more than played their part. Brown joined the Bulldogs permanently after a loan spell at the club last year while he was contracted with Halifax. His best rugby has been at the Bulldogs in past years and the club will be hoping he’s able to repeat those sort of performances. Ainscough has been with the Bulldogs since his move from Whitehaven in 2015 and his no-nonsense running style has seen him become a regular fixture in a dangerous Bulldogs team. 

Prediction

After they shocked Halifax in their own back yard, any potential underestimation of Swinton in the Batley ranks will have been thrown straight out of the window ahead of this clash. John Kear will be wanting an ultra professional performance from his Bulldogs side this Sunday as Swinton come to West Yorkshire looking to upset yet another Championship stalwart – Batley by 14

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