Batley Bulldogs' winning run ends against London Broncos

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Batley Bulldogs tasted defeat for the first time since Good Friday as London Broncos produced a shock at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium.

The Bulldogs found themselves 14-0 and 20-12 down against the Broncos and, ultimately, had too much to do to ensure an eighth successive Championship win.

A Dale Morton double at the start of the second half gave Batley hope as they reduced the deficit to two points but a Bill Leyland try, which added to first half efforts from Dean Parata and Illiess Macani, swung the momentum back in favour of the visitors, who held on for a deserved 20-18 victory.

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The Bulldogs started sluggishly, barely getting out of their own 40 in their opening set. This was in stark contrast to the Broncos’ first attack, as the visitors, remarkably, raced down the Mount Pleasant hill to take a second minute lead with Parata crashing over next to the posts after great work by Oli Leyland, who made an easy conversion.

Action from Batley Bulldogs versus London Broncos. (Photo credit: Paul Butterfield)Action from Batley Bulldogs versus London Broncos. (Photo credit: Paul Butterfield)
Action from Batley Bulldogs versus London Broncos. (Photo credit: Paul Butterfield)

Craig Lingard’s men were looking a shadow of the side which had won ten of their previous 12 games. It wasn’t until the tenth minute that they threatened, with Jimmy Meadows being held up on the line.

Next to try and force their way through a stubborn Broncos defence was Kieran Buchanan but, again, he was thwarted inches from the whitewash. On the very next tackle, the Bulldogs were faced with a mountain to climb as Meadows’ attempted looping pass to Morton was intercepted by Macani, who sprinted 90 metres for London’s second try of the afternoon, with Leyburn adding the extras.

The home side, while not looking clinical, did not let their heads drop, and Ben Kaye, one of four changes Lingard made from the 17 which made it seven out of seven at Swinton last weekend, had two chances within the same set to get them on the scoreboard. Similarly to Meadows and Buchanan he was firstly held up on the line before he got on the end of a delightful grubber kick to touch down, but the referee had adjudged the hooker to have been offside.

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Meadows will have had his heart in his mouth when a chipped-kick to the corner for Morton didn’t have enough elevation and was intercepted again by Macani but the winger, this time, was quickly surrounded by a host of cerise, gold and white shirts.

The Fox's Biscuits Stadium, home of Batley BulldogsThe Fox's Biscuits Stadium, home of Batley Bulldogs
The Fox's Biscuits Stadium, home of Batley Bulldogs

A Leyland penalty made it 14-0 with ten minutes remaining until half time. This was certainly not in the script. The Broncos had lost their previous two outings and were outsiders in this contest before kick off.

They were massively frustrating the favourites who were looking to leapfrog back over Toulouse and Sheffield Eagles into second place, however. A tremendous defensive effort on the London line was met with glorious cheers from the home crowd. But the Bulldogs could not regain possession from the goal line drop out. It summed up their first half performance.

Paul Ulberg had a great chance to extend the lead further before the break but he could not get over the line in the corner.

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There was time though for Meadows to convert a penalty just as the hooter sounded.

And that little boost, along with playing down the hill in the second half, gave the Bulldogs some momentum and they scored their first try of the afternoon five minutes after the restart with Morton flying over in the corner. Meadows successfully kicked a difficult conversion from the touchline.

In their eight-try win over the Lions last Sunday, there were eight different try scorers. That wasn’t the case this afternoon as Morton made it a quick-fire double thanks to a brilliant solo-run, finished with a great dummy to go over in the same corner. Meadows, however, missed the kick.

With only two points the difference, the Bulldogs were seemingly in the ascendancy but London hit back when Oli’s brother, Bill, spun and twisted his way over the line.

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Never write Batley off though. Back they came with the spirited Josh Hodson forcing himself over. Meadows made the conversion to get them back to within two points again with just over ten minutes left.

And Meadows had a great chance to make it a level game after he was on the receiving end of a high hit but his resulting penalty, agonisingly, drifted wide, and the Broncos saw the game out to clinch two important points.

Batley: McGowen, Morton, Hodson, Senior, Kear, Meadows, White, Lillycrop, Kaye, Reilly, Manning, Buchanan, Blake

Interchanges: Johnson, Flynn, Ward, Leak

Tries: Morton (2), Hodson

Conversions: Meadows (2)

Penalties: Meadows

London: Walker, Ulberg, Evans, Stevens, Macani, O Leyland, Tyrer, Butler, B Leyland, Stock, Lovell, Gannon, Parata

Interchanges: Davies, Davis, Makin, Monk

Tries: Parata, Macani, B Leyland

Conversions: O Leyland (3)

Penalties: O Leyland