Batley Bulldogs put up a gutsy fight but ultimately went down 64-18 to the newly crowned league leaders Toronto Wolfpack at Lamport Stadium.
Toronto had two ‘almost’ tries at the start of the game, with Corey Paterson forcing his way over the line only for the hard working Batley defense to hold him up. Adam Higson would also gain the opportunity to run in at the corner, but again the Batley defense stood strong and forced him out of play to keep the Wolfpack at bay.
The game would be opened up by Blake Wallace, whose quick footwork in his own 20 metre line sliced open the defence and his length of the field sprint would see the Australian score the first points of the game. Gareth O’Brien, having cemented the role of kicker, missed the conversion in difficult conditions for the kickers in the game.
In what was described as “the hit of the day”, Darcy Lussick would run full speed for an almighty collision with Ben Crooks, who after the medics attended to him was be able to rise to his feet, but would be withdrawn for concussion protocol.
Greg Worthington then crashed over in the corner for Toronto, and from the same position as his first kick, O’Brien sent the ball wide of the posts. Chase Stanley powered his way in to add points in the other corner, and O’Brien would this time find the middle of the sticks to add the two points for his team. Moments after, O’Brien would force his way through the Bulldogs’ line and hand over to Wallace to add his second try of the game, with O’Brien again adding the two.
Nick Rawsthorne found his way over to add points courtesy of a kick forward from Corey Paterson, and Wallace, who was causing all kinds of problems for Batley, once again cut through the defense as though they weren’t there before handing over to Bob Beswick to add to the Toronto tally.
On the half hour mark, Batley captain Dominic Brambani would play a short kick through the Toronto line, which was smothered by Gareth O’Brien, but he was injured in the process and released the ball, thinking that the play had been stopped, but Brambani would race in to collect and controversially touch down for a try. Isaac Farrell would add the two for Batley, but Toronto would hit back immediately with Paterson forcing his way towards the line and putting the ball over the line with a full stretched arm to close the first half scoring.
At the start of the second half, O’Brien was pulled out of the game due to the injury suffered in the build up to the Bately try, so Ryan Brierley took over the kicking duties.
Higson would cross the line early on, and Brierley missed his first kick after taking over for O’Brien. The second half saw a dominant display from Batley, who battled hard, which led to clear frustration from players of the ‘Pack. James Davey would cross for Batley, and shortly after Toronto were put on a team warning, before Olsi Krasniqi was sent to the sin bin.
The first 20 minutes of the half were all Batley, but Andy Ackers would stop the run of play against the ‘Pack, breaking through the defence and charging in to add the points, and Brierley successfully converted. Brierley would then find his own way through, before the Scottish international would add the two for his own try.
Batley had no intention of rolling over, and Michael Ward would be able to add more points for the Bulldogs, with Jamaican international Farrell again adding two. But, with just moments left in the game, Wallace would once again break through Batley’s defence and add his third try of the game. Brierley managed to add the two and the game would end 64-18, in what was the most competitive game all season at the Lamport stadium.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Toronto can Win Ugly
Despite being crowned league leaders last week, Toronto showed in the first half that they had no intention of taking it easy until the middle 8’s. The first half was a strong performance, and the team had picked up where they left off from last week against Sheffield. The second half was the weakest performance that we have seen from the ‘Pack at home this season, but take nothing away from Batley, who fought hard all game and their gutsy performance deserved more from the game.
It was a good test for Toronto, who were forced to stop the Batley momentum and find their way back into a game that they had lost control of. They haven’t had much opportunity to deal with that this season, and that will be vital practice for the play-off games.
Blake Wallace is a Wolfpack Star
There has been an inevitable debate in Toronto since clinching a middle 8 spot, which is discussing who in the team would be strong players for Super League, should the team make it that far.
The Australian half back has not played in the Super League before, but his impressive performances this season are showing that he is going to be a huge player for the ‘Pack. His turn of pace and confidence to drive forward has proved to be a nightmare to deal with for a number of opposing teams this season, and if the ‘Pack do make the Super League, he has the ability to take hold of games and have a say on the outcome of games in the top division.
Man Of The Match- Blake Wallace (Toronto Wolfpack)
Some of the Batley players will be hoping that Toronto do gain promotion, so they don’t have to see Blake Wallace running at them next season.
The half back was simply immense and was a thorn in the paw of the Bulldogs all game, causing them nothing but problems. Another fantastic performance from Wallace, who has undoubtedly won the hearts of the fans with some superb performances this season.
Toronto Wolfpack 64
Tries: Blake Wallace 3, Greg Worthington, Chase Stanley, Nick Rawsthorne, Bob Beswick, Corey Paterson, Adam Higson, Andy Ackers, Ryan Brierley,
Goals: Gareth O’Brien 4, Ryan Brierley 4
Drop Goals: n/a
Batley Bulldogs 18
Tries: Dominic Brambini, James Davey, Michael Ward
Goals: Isaac Farrell 3
Drop Goals: n/a
Toronto Wolfpack: O’Brien, Higson, Worthington, Stanley, Rawsthorne, Wallace, Brierley, Sims, Beswick, Lussick, Dixon, Paterson, Hopkins.
Replacements: Ackers, Buchanan, Krasniqi, Sidlow.
Batley Bulldogs: Farrell, Tomlinson, Crookes, Galbraith, Scott, Leak, Brambani, Holland, Davey, Harrison, Manning, Day, Farrell.
Replacements: Maun, Ward, Bretherton, Rowe.
Referee: Michael Mannifield.