Batley survival hopes bolstered after appeal

Batley Bulldogs' head coach John Kear.
Batley Bulldogs' head coach John Kear.
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Batley BULL DOGS and Doncaster have won their appeal against a points deduction imposed by the Rugby Football League.

The Championship clubs were both docked three points by an independent tribunal of the RFL a fortnight ago after being found guilty of fielding ineligible Super League players during matches on July 27.

With five clubs due to be relegated to Championship One this year to make way for the new league structure, the outcome plunged John Kear’s Batley into deep trouble.

But last night’s announcement means they now climb to ninth place, with Whitehaven dropping into the relegation zone.

The verdict, which is sure to cause anger in Cumbria, means Batley will survive if they win their remaining two games while Keighley and Workington are no longer safe in seventh and eighth places respectively.

It also improves the chances of a top-four finish for Doncaster, who are now only one point behind third-placed Halifax, their next opponents on Sunday.

Batley and Doncaster were found to have breached the RFL’s operational rules in playing Super League duo Jacob Fairbank (Huddersfield) and Ben Crooks (Hull) respectively on dual registration after the Championship transfer deadline had actually passed.

The RFL say the appeals tribunal overturned the points deductions after being presented with fresh evidence relating to previous breaches of operational rules by other clubs which had not faced similar sanctions.

Doncaster chief executive Carl Hall said: “I have always been confident that the club had strong grounds for an appeal.

“I was surprised with the initial outcome of the hearing and therefore pleased that justice and common sense have prevailed on this occasion.”