Batley Bulldogs retained the Roy Powell Trophy with a 28-18 victory over Dewsbury Rams in the traditional Boxing Day Powerhouse Fitness Challenge at Fox’s Biscuits Stadium.
Victory for the Bulldogs ensured Matt Diskin began his reign as Batley coach on a winning note, while this was also Batley’s fifth successive Boxing Day victory over their close rivals.
Dewsbury were handed a blow when Andy Kain was forced to withdraw from the squad on the morning of the match but the Rams began well and piled on early pressure playing down the slope with a fierce wind at their backs,
Jason Crookes was tackled just short of the line before the Rams went ahead when Toby Adamson raced through a gap to cross and Paul Sykes converted.
Gareth Potts looked to have added a second try when he gathered Aaron Brown’s kick behind the defence but play was brought back for a forward pass in the build up.
Batley had struggled to get out of their own half in the opening quarter but hit back from their first attack as Matt Hayward made a lovely crossfield run and Macauley Hallett sent Shaun Ainscough over in the corner.
Dom Brambani was unable to convert in the blustery conditions.
Dewsbury twice went close to extending their lead but knocked on close to the Bulldogs line before a dangerous Sykes kick dribbled dead.
Another excellent move ended with Potts gathering a long pass to score in the corner on the stroke of half-time and Sykes landed a terrific touchline goal as Dewsbury led 12-4 at half-time.
Dewsbury also began the second half well as Lucas Walshaw spun out of a tackle but was held inches short of the line, while Sykes twice forced the Bulldogs to drop out with kicks to the in goal area.
Dewsbury were dealt a blow when Josh Guzdek limped off and Batley turned the game with three tries in the space of seven minutes.
Patch Walker stole the ball from makeshift full-back Dale Morton and on the next tackle Brambani scooted over from acting half back and Walker converted.
Batley stormed back down the slope and Wayne Reittie reacted when the Rams hesitated in defence following Brambani’s kick through as the winger scooped up the loose ball to race over and put the Bulldogs ahead, with walker again converting.
The Rams kick off failed to go 10 metres as the wind blew the ball back and Batley launched another attack on the back of the resulting penalty.
Joe Chandler gathered a pass and raced through a gap in the Rams defence for Batley’s third try in quick succession. Walker converted and the Bulldogs led 22-12.
A lovely passing move resulted in Sam Smeaton sending Shaun Squires racing in at the right corner and Walker landed a towering touchline goal to extend his side’s lead.
Dewsbury tried valiantly to reply and Sykes again forced Batley to drop out.
The visitors were rewarded with a last minute consolation try as substitute winger Donald Kudangirana scooped up a loose pass on halfway and outpaced the Batley defence on a 50 metre run to the line. Sykes capped a fine game with his third conversion but it was Batley supporters who celebrated another Boxing Day win over their old rivals.
Batley Bulldogs: Hayward; Ainscough, Hallett, Smeaton, Reittie; Southernwood, Brambani; Lillycrop, Leak, Rowe, Day, Harrison, Chandler. Subs: Walker, Davey, Cowling, Bretherton, Squires, Hill, O’Sullivan, Bravo.
Dewsbury Rams: Guzdek; Morton, Crookes, Barnes, Potts; Sykes, Speakman; Stringer, Hemingway, T Adamson, Spicer, Walshaw, Brown. Subs: Tonks, Ward, Teanby, Foster, Ollett, Kudangirana.
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas.