Dewsbury Rams fought back from 12-0 down to defeat Batley Bulldogs 28-22 in a pulsating Heavy Woollen derby at Fox’s Biscuits Stadium.
Victory was enough to guarantee Dewsbury a top-four spot and book a place in the Shield semi-finals, while Batley slip five points behind fourth placed Workington.
A cracking contest was marred by a serious injury to Batley full-back Johnny Campbell, who suffered a broken leg and dislocated ankle early in the second half.
Sporting a one-0ff pink strip as part of a fundraising weekend for breast cancer charities, Batley made a terrific start as they raced into a 12-0 lead in the opening half hour.
Despite playing up the slope in the first half, Batley took a seventh minute lead.
Prop Keegan Hirst had a terrific game against his former club as he drove the home side forward and he went close to opening the scoring when he was tackled short of the line.
Shaun Ainscough skipped over for a try from the very next play, which Scott Leatherbarrow improved.
Dewsbury were reduced to 12 men following the sin-binning of Joel Farrell for a high tackle and the home side took full advantage when another former Ram, Luke Blake, forced his way over from acting half-back and Leatherbarrow again converted.
Dewsbury finally took advantage of the slope and almost pulled a try back when Etu Uaisele created an overlap but winger Dalton Grant couldn’t hold the pass.
From the Rams’ next attack, Anthony Thackeray’s short pass was met at pace by Shane Grady, who crashed over. Dale Morton added an excellent conversion from out wide as the Rams trailed 12-6 at half-time.
Dewsbury levelled three minutes into the second half as Matty Wildie’s towering kick was spilled by Wayne Reittie and Uaisele pounced for his first Rams try.
Morton converted as Dewsbury drew level.
There was a lengthy stoppage in play as Campbell received treatment before he was stretchered from the field and taken to hospital.
Batley regained the lead when Alex Brown brilliantly gathered Leatherbarrow’s kick to spin and score out wide.
The end to end contest continued as winger Dalton Grant gathered Ryan Fieldhouse’s long pass to race over.
Morton landed a superb touchline goal as the Rams edged ahead for the first time.
Thackeray produced a superb piece of individual play as he stepped through the Bulldogs defence before racing 30 metres, rounding Ainscough, and diving between the posts to give Morton a simple conversion.
Batley hit back as Sam Scott forced his way through the Rams defence and over for the try, with Leatherbarrow’s conversion reducing the deficit to just two points.
Ainscough dropped the resulting kick off and after Dewsbury took play close to the line Farrell twisted in a tackle to plant the ball down.
Batley piled on the pressure in the final 10 minutes but Dewsbury’s defence remained solid to repel back-to-back sets close to their line and they gained two valuable points and wrestled the derby bragging rights back from their oldest rivals.