Batley Bulldogs 50
York City Knights 16
By Andrew Hunt
BATLEY Bulldogs turned on the style in front of the Sky TV cameras last Thursday as they trounced York City Knights at Mount Pleasant.
The impressive Bulldogs ran in 10 tries on their way to a half-century of points, which helped keep the pressure near the top of the Co-operative Championship.
Winger Alex Brown led the way with a hat-trick of tries, while stand-off Paul Handforth produced a terrific display, setting up many of the Bulldogs attacks with a great kicking game.
Batley blew York away with four tries in the opening 20 minutes.
They led after just three minutes as Handforth stormed through a gap from deep inside his own ‘25 and raced up the slope. He flung a long pass out to Brown and although the speedy winger was caught, the Bulldogs had a great field position.
Batley drove close before Alex Bretherton showed great strength to barge over and plant the ball down in the left corner. Handforth added a terrific touchline goal.
From Batley’s next attack, they again stretched York, this time to the right and Dane Manning produced a brilliant long pass to send Wayne Reittie over in the corner.
Batley were tearing York apart at will and from another attack up the slope Handforth, Paul Mennell and Ian Preece linked to send Brown over wide out. Handforth again landed a touchline goal and the Bulldogs were 16-0 up after just 13 minutes.
Craig Potter drove Batley close before hooker Kris Lythe sent Danny Maun over for a simple try and at 20-0, York appeared in for a long night.
However, Batley seemed to ease off and centre James Ford replied with a try out wide for the Knights, although normal service looked to have been resumed when Handforth sent Reittie over but the Bulldogs were judged to have stollen the ball in the build up and from the penalty, York hit back.
Having taken the ball close, Duane Straugheir drove to the line and when the ball came lose, Tom Bush picked it up to score. Referee Ronnie Laughton consulted the video official, who awarded the try and Bush tagged on the conversion from wide out.
It was only a brief lapse in concentration as Batley hit back on the stroke of half-time when Sean Hesketh was held up over the line before Handforth produced a delightful kick beyond the Knights defence and Reittie did extremely well to pounce on the bobbling ball for his second try as Batley led 24-10 at the break.
Two tries in the opening eight minutes of the second half killed off any York threat as Mennell’s deft kick was pounced on by Brown before York spilled the ball and Lythe moved play left for Hesketh to barge through the defence for a try, which Handforth converted.
Ian Preece had a terrific game at full-back and his jinking run set up another good field position.
Bretherton produced a lovely one handed pass out of a tackle for Maun to send Brown in for his hat-trick try and Handforth’s conversion extended the lead to 40-10.
Preece capped a great display by showing an excellent turn of pace to race through a gap and storm in at the right corner for a fine individual try.
Batley brought up their half-century four minutes from time when another storming Brown run took them close before Handforth kicked to the in-goal area and Adam Robinson won the race to touch down close enough to the posts for Handforth to add the goal.
There was time for York’s Jack Stearman to score a late consolation goal, which former Batley man Mark Barlow converted, but it took none of the gloss off a top Bulldogs display.
Batley Bulldogs: Preece; Reittie, Williams, Maun, Brown; Handforth, Mennell; Smith, Lythe, Potter, Manning, Bretherton, Lindsay. Subs (all used): Buttery, Walton, Hesketh, Robinson.
York City Knights: Bush; Sutton, Straugheir, Ford, Wilson; Thackery, Presley; Esders, Lee, Benson, Clarke, Barlow, Thorman. Subs (all used): Stearman, Burns, Garside, Haynes.
Referee: Ronnie Laughton (Barnsley).