Batley 12 Doncaster 26: Beaten Bulldogs coach Kear full or praise for match-winner Cooke

A below-par Batley Bulldogs were hounded to their fourth successive league defeat by an enterprising and energetic Doncaster outfit well-led by stand-off Paul Cooke.

Paul Cooke

Cooke’s performance brought an effusive accolade from Batley coach John Kear – “it showed magnificently how a clever half-back can control a game” – while condemning the Bulldogs performance as “ a stinker”.

Batley repeatedly handed over possession through poor handling, misplaced passes and lack of support while the Dons, seeking revenge for an earlier home defeat the hands of the Bulldogs, revelled in their open play, supported one another splendidly and kept the home side under pressure as they chased Cooke’s repeated and well-judged kicks to the tryline.

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It put pressure on the home side, who cracked after another raid by energetic hooker Mike Emmett. He was held just short, but prop Mark Castle was able to take advantage of some sloppy tackling to drive over for an 18th-minute try which Stu Sanderson converted – the first of five.

Five minutes later the Dons stretched their lead with some superb passing. Substitute Russ Spiers had been narrowly prevented from crossing in one corner, but before Batley could reorganise the ball was moved crisply along the line for centre Dan Cowling to stride over unchallenged in the opposite corner.

Sanderson made the most of it by opening up a 12-0 lead as he converted from the touchline 30 metres out.

Batley winger Gary Potts went close before but a quick play-the-ball saw Miles Greenwood collect and score a try goaled by substitute Gareth Moore.

Further sloppy play by Batley provided Sanderson with another penalty goal and, on the stroke of half-time, slick passing gave Sanderson another try which he converted.

The second half started more encouragingly for Batley and energetic prop Alex Rowe forced his way over for a try which Hemingway converted to make the score 20-12.

The game was settled when Lee Waterman and Grant Edwards broke away and sent scrum-half Liam Kay over for a touchdown which Sanderson converted.

Batley Bulldogs: Greenwood; Potts, Walton, Faal, G Johnson; Black, Hemingway; Smith, Mennell, Rowe, Bretherton, Davies, Maun. Substitutes: Flanagan, J Johnson, Hirst, Moore.

Doncaster: Butterfield; Tuffour, Cowling, Dawson, Sanderson; Cooke, Kay; Castle, Emmett, Carbutt, Kelly, Spurr, Edwards. Substitutes: Kesik, Spiers, Waller, Waterman.

Referee: R Laughton (RFL).