|Carnegie Challenge Cup round 4, a Championship clash at the South Leeds Stadium as the Hawks took on the Bulldogs in a fight for a place in the next round.
Batley were a side filled with experience and they could definitely put points on the board, the key to controlling this would have to be a well disciplined defence. It was the Hawks who asked the questions first as they invaded Bulldogs territory, 12 minutes into the game and powerful forward Andy Yates was first receiver and seizing the opportunity to drive the ball in he proved impossible to stop. He reached out over the Batley defenders who were clinging to him and grounded the ball on the line to score those all important first points, Helliwell landed the kick. Both sides got straight back into it, 30 minutes passed and there was nothing between them, but Gareth Moore the scrum half for the Bulldogs began to cause some problems. Managing to blast the Hawks with three tries he had set up before the break, the Hawks had been unlucky with some dubious decisions but a score of 6-14 by no means meant we were out of the game just yet.
It seemed the second half was going to be exciting! An opening try from Bulldogs Gareth Potts as he slid in a gap in the right hand corner was not the most promising of starts but not even this 10 point difference was going to stop this Hawks outfit. Last weeks victory must have given them this confidence that they were showing in this cup tie, so determined to come back into it. Kainy (back from a jaw injury) filled the space of Tuffour in the squad today and he was certainly up for the challenge, timing his run perfectly Stuart managed to put himself into the perfect position for the interception. Racing towards the sticks, the Batley defence struggled but eventually wrestled him to the ground yards short of the line, the Hawks kept their composure and settled it on the next set. Clever play from Helliwell was enough to send skipper Marchy flying over and things were hotting up. Defensively the side were brilliant, every man making it extremely difficult for the Bulldogs to get anywhere.The referee’s whistle seemed to be very much against the home side, making the challenge increasingly difficult, awarding Batley with 6 penalties on the Hunslet line it was up to the Hawks to keep them from scoring. Amazingly they managed to do it Batley; had got nothing, proving to everyone that they wanted to be taken seriously as contenders the Hawks were hungry for points. The crowd roared as Yatesy went crashing down centre field with not a Bulldog in sight, the young forward had done it again as he dived over the whitewash it was clear the chase was on!
10 minutes left of play and Batley were feeling the pressure, a try for the Hawks was chalked off as Kainy was judged to be offside and as a disagreement saw Alex Brown and Steve Lewis sent to the bin the Bulldogs were desperate to save themselves. Moore landed a drop goal, two tries were needed, could the Hawks do it? They were about to give it a go. Picking up the pace the Hawks had regained possession. Oakesy created the gap drawing the defenders one way he managed to get the ball away; David March got his hands on it and wasted no time forcing his way across for his second. Helliwell had picked up an injury early in the second half so Hodgson was left to attempt the conversion but unfortunately the strong wind blew it just wide. The score was so close, 18-21 with 2 minutes left on the clock. The home side tried everything and as the hooter blew the boys had been so unlucky.
The game had been exciting from start to finish and after 50 minutes it was difficult to say who would prove victorious. The scoreline did not do the Hawks justice; their effort had been brilliant and they had played some very good rugby. A few debatable decisions by the officials hadn’t helped but, despite that, the game can be seen as nothing but positive. Hopefully a preview of what is to come this year.
Man of the Match – Andy Yates
Congratulations to the Batley Bulldogs
Well done to Barry and the boys
See you next week for out away fixture at the Tetley Stadium, Dewsbury.