Dewsbury Rams 20
Batley Bulldogs 36
By Andrew Hunt
THESE two great Heavy Woollen rivals served up another entertaining derby in front of the Sky TV cameras last Thursday as Batley completed a Co-operative Championship double over neighbours Dewsbury Rams.
The game hinged on the controversial 20th minute sending off of Rams prop Anthony England, following an off the ball altercation with Batley’s Sean Hesketh.
As players broke from a scrum, England was seen to throw a punch in back play and he was sent off by referee Tim Roby.
However, there was confusion among spectators as Mr Roby did not show England a card but simply pointed to the tunnel and it was several minutes before many supporters realised the Rams man had been dismissed.
It was not the only occasion of confusion in the stands as several times Mr Roby referred to the video referee but with no big screen at the ground, there was no way of relaying information to the paying public.
Batley stand-off Paul Handforth was the difference between the sides as, despite carrying a knee injury, he dictated play and was at the hub of the Bulldogs best moves.
After surviving an early spell of pressure it was Dewsbury who drew first blood when Alex Brown spilt a huge up-and-under by Dominic Brambani and after the Rams had driven close, Luke Blake fed Brambani, who supplied a lovely weighted pass for Elliot Cosgrove to score out wide.
Brambani’s conversion attempt appeared to go between the posts but there was further confusion when one touch judge awarded the goal but the other judged it wide.
For a time the scoreboard stated that Dewsbury led 6-0 before it was finally corrected.
Brambani landed two penalties to stretch Dewsbury’s lead to 8-0 before England was sent off and left the field with a ripped shirt.
Dewsbury had to play over an hour with 12 men and this was always going to prove costly in the energy sapping heat.
Cosgrove did superbly to deny Ian Preece a certain try with a brilliant tackle just short of the try line before the Bulldogs responded as Handforth sent David Tootill through a gap to score and George Flanagan added the conversion.
Batley took the lead in first half injury time when a penalty put them on attack and having stretched Dewsbury one way, then the other, Jason Walson stormed over and Flanagan’s conversion made it 12-8 at the break.
Brambani hit back for the Rams with a lovely jinking run to the line after 46 minutes and the scrum-half converted to edge the Rams back in front.
Batley hit back straight away as Handforth’s grubber kick was not dealt with by Brambani and Dane Manning had the simple task of planting the ball over the line.
Handforth added the conversion and tagged on a penalty soon after.
Batley then struck a decisive blow when Michael Wainwright gathered a Handforth kick but then lost the ball when driving away from his own line.
Danny Maun was on hand to celebrate the birth of his daughter by touching down to cap a memorable 200th appearance in a Batley shirt.
Rob Spicer looked to have earned Dewsbury a deserved bonus point when he produced a surging run, brushing off three would be tacklers to score between the posts and Brambani’s conversion pulled the Rams back to within 10 points.
But from the last play of the game, Flanagan dived between the posts from acting half-back and he also added the conversion to kick-start the celebrations among Batley’s vociferous supporters.
Dewsbury Rams: Turner; Wainwright, Cosgrove, Smith, Buchanan; Walker, Brambani; England, Blake, Hirst, Spicer, Lockwood, Tonks. Subs: Menzies, Bibb, Broughton, Horton.
Batley Bulldogs: Campbell; Reittie, Williams, Maun, Brown; Handforth, Preece; Smith, Lythe, Potter, Bretherton, Manning, Lindsay. Subs: Flanagan, Walton, Hesketh, Tootill.
Referee: Tim Roby.