Leigh Centurions 36
Batley Bulldogs 12
THE Bulldogs lost out in Sunday’s Co-operative Championship top two tussle but turned in a good effort against the unbeaten leaders.
It was a competitive display by Batley who despite having players carrying injuries, grafted hard and the final score was somewhat harsh.
The hosts hit the front after just four minutes when lively scrum-half Jamie Ellis sent centre Matt Blythe away to score his first try since returning from Warrington on a dual registration deal. Mick Nanyn added the goal.
The Bulldogs responded well and only a fine tackle by Tommy Goulden ended a dangerous break by full-back Jonny Campbell before Leigh doubled their advantage in the 18th minute. Ellis and Martin Ridyard combined to send full-back Stuart Donlan over for the first of his two tries.
Nanyn converted and was on target again 11 minutes later to write his name into the record books after the hosts breached a stubborn Batley defence to make it 18-0. David Mills and Mick Govin linked well to give Ellis the chance to dart over and touchdown.
Nanyn’s conversion saw him nudge ahead of Dewsbury legend Jimmy Ledgard to take his place in the top 10 all time points scorers. He finished the day on 3,282 points and is just 99 behind Andy Farrell who stands in ninth place.
The Bulldogs then had their best spell as the half drew to a close with George Flanagan and Paul Handforth at the hub of things. Handforth’s kicking was proving effective and Batley forced three back-to-back sets but good raids by Dave Tootill and Dane Manning were snuffed out by a tight Leigh defence.
The second half saw Batley play with the strong breeze but Leigh extended their lead in the 45th minute after Stuart Littler lost the ball over the Bulldogs line.
Donlan pounced to touchdown despite appeals the ball had gone forward and Nanyn converted for a 24-0 lead.
The Bulldogs then dug in and two tries in four minutes gave them hope of a fightback.
Craig Potter collected a loose ball in the 54th minute and after the ball was driven deep Wayne Reittie handed off three tacklers to cross at the corner.
Handforth added the goal and soon after his precise grubber kick to the posts saw centre Daley Williams dart through to score a try. Handforth converted and at 24-12 Batley had belief.
The leaders though dug in and 11 minutes from time Ellis collected his own kick and sent Anthony Nicholson over for a try which Ridyard converted.
Batley responded well and Handforth sent Alex Brown away wide out but his inside pass to Danny Maun was fumbled as the centre appeared to be tackled without the ball.
Then a minute from time Leigh’s Steve Nash latched onto an Ellis kick for a try which Ridyard converted.
Leigh Centurions: Donlan; Evans, Blythe, Nanyn, McGilvray; Ridyard, Ellis; Hill, Nicholson, Nash, Littler, Goulden, Taylor. Subs all used: Higson, Govin, Thornley, Mills.
Batley Bulldogs: Campbell; Reittie, Williams, Maun, Brown; Handforth, Preece; Smith, Lythe, Potter, Bretherton, Manning, Buttery. Subs all used: Lindsay, Hesketh, Tootill, Flanagan.
Referee: Tim Roby (York).