Bulldogs suffer heavy defeat in emotional final home game

Batley Bulldogs suffered a 64-0 defeat at the hands of rampant Featherstone Rovers on an emotional afternoon at Mount Pleasant.

It was an emotional afternoon at Mount Pleasant as tributes were paid to Batley Bulldogs player Archie Bruce
It was an emotional afternoon at Mount Pleasant as tributes were paid to Batley Bulldogs player Archie Bruce

It was the first game since the tragic death of Archie Bruce just hours after making his Bulldogs debut against Toulouse and tributes were paid to the popular hooker, with club directors and officials wearing black armbands with Archie’s name on, while a minute’s applause was held before kick off, as had taken place before every game over the weekend.

Batley were adamant the game should have gone ahead but coach Matt Diskin admitted that his squad were not mentally ready to face a return to the sport.

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Featherstone were at their ruthless best as they ran in 11 tries, while scrum half Dane Chisholm recorded a personal haul of 32 points from a hat-trick of tries and 10 goals as Rovers secured a top-five Championship finish.

Batley were put under pressure from the start as Rovers stormed down the slope but were kept at bay for the opening 15 minutes.

However, once the Bulldogs defence was breached, it opened the floodgates and Featherstone took complete control.

Callum McLelland’s kick to the in-goal area forced Batley to drop out and when Featherstone attacked again, Brad Day shrugged off a defender and stormed over for the opening try against his former club, with Chisholm converting.

It sparked a spell in which Rovers scored five tries in 13 minutes.

Rovers attacked again from a penalty immediately after the re-start and having taken play close to the line, hooker Cameron King forced his way over to the right of the posts from acting half-back.

Rovers were on a roll as another penalty saw them storm back downfield and they moved play left for Chisholm to race through a gap and over at the side of the posts. He also tagged on both goals.

A kick over the top to the in-goal area forced Batley to drop out and Featherstone moved play right for centre Josh Hardcastle to score, with Chisholm adding the difficult goal.

The pick of Featherstone’s first half tries came after half an hour as McLelland sent Josh Walters through a gap and another former Bulldog Jack Harrison was in support to take the final pass to charge between the posts and give McLelland a simple goal for a 30-0 lead.

There was no easing off by Featherstone after the break as they took just four minutes to extend their lead when James Lockwood gathered a short pass to score a simple try between the posts. Chisholm’s conversion was a formality.

Batley had brief respite when a penalty gave them chance to attack but a dropped pass saw it go begging.

Chisholm added his second try, collecting a short pass to slice through the defence and he converted.

Featherstone capitalised when Dominic Brambani knocked on with Batley in a promising position and they mounted a swift counter attack which ended with Connor Jones dummying his way over to score behind the posts and give Chisholm a simple goal.

Jack Ormondroyd then produced a strong burst upfield and although he was caught, managed to slip the ball out for the supporting Chisholm to complete his hat-trick and convert.

Full-back Ash Golding slipped a pass away for Hardcastle to grab his second and Rovers’ 10th try of the game but Chisholm was off target for the first time in the match.

The rout was completed when Jones collected an offload to score his second try and Chisholm converted to ensure Rovers secured a fifth place finish but for Batley, they will just want the season to end as soon as possible.

Batley Bulldogs: Scott; Reitie, Broadbent, Galbraith, Campbell; Yates, Brambani; Gledhill, Leak, Everett, Downs, Bretherton, Brearley. Subs: Taira, Tomlinson, Senior, Ward.

Featherstone Rovers: Golding; Johnson, Hardcastle, Sutcliffe, Carey; Chisholm, McLelland; Makatoa, King, Davies, Day, Walters, Lockwood. Subs: Cooper, Harrison, Jones, Ormondroyd.

Referee: Gareth Hewer.