Match report: Batley Bulldogs 34 Doncaster RLFC 6

Paul Mennell grabbed a late try for the Dons
Paul Mennell grabbed a late try for the Dons

There was to be no winning return to his former club for Dons’ boss Gary Thornton as Batley Bulldogs showed their teeth in this Championship relegation clash at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium.

Second-bottom Batley ended a run of seven successive defeats to claim their first home win in the league since the opening day of the season to leave the Dons even further adrift at the foot of the table.

The Dons, who had winger Stu Sanderson playing as a makeshift stand-off, elected to play down the infamous slope in the hope of putting early points on the board, but it was Batley who boasted more of an attacking threat and went close on several occasions.

Batley’s pressure paid off when winger Alex Brown beat Sam Doherty close to the line to dive over in the corner for a 14th minute unconverted try.

Despite the best efforts of former Batley scrum-half Paul Mennell and prop Mitch Clark, the Dons rarely threatened to breach the Bulldogs’ line

Tom Lillycrop brushed off several would-be defenders before reaching out of the tackle to score at the side of the post for another converted try just after the half-hour mark.

The home side increased their lead to 10-0 on 21 minutes, centre Chris Squires breaking a tackle close to the line and reaching out to touch down near enough for scrum-half Scott Leatherbarrow to convert.

Winger Wayne Reittie showed blistering pace to win the race to a pin-point crossfield kick by Leatherbarrow to score in the corner to secure the home side a 20-0 lead.

The Dons suffered a double blow the last minute of the half, Mennell being sin-binned and Reittie racing in for his second try.

When Cain Southernwood weaved his way over for another converted try to make it 30-0 a couple of minutes after the restart, Thornton must have feared another big drubbing.

Doncaster’s cause wasn’t helped by the fact that they were playing into a torrential rain storm and driving wind which had hit the area at the start of the second half.

But to their credit, the visitors made a spirited response and started to ask questions of the Batley defence and it was against the run of play when they fell further behind at the start of the final quarter when Squires, who later bombed a gilt-edged chance following a comedy of errors, bagged a second close-range try to make it 34-0.

Mennell capped a hard-working display when he kicked ahead to score a late try, converted by Dave Scott, but it was scant consolation.

Batley: Campbell; Rettie, Ainscough, Squires, Brown; Southernwood, Leatherbarrow; Hirst, Blake, Hesketh, Day, Scott, Chandler. Nicholson, Rowe, Lillycrop, Brown.

Dons: Scott; Doherty, Welham, Waterman, Fox; Sanderson, Mennell; Carbutt, Kesik, Spiers, Kelly, Musolino, Snitch. Emmett, Waller, Clark, Foster.