Wakefield Trinity recover from spirited Batley Bulldogs comeback to continue perfect start

Wakefield Trinity recovered from a spirited Batley Bulldogs comeback to maintain their 100 per cent record at the start of the 2024 Championship campaign.
The Fox's Biscuits Stadium.The Fox's Biscuits Stadium.
The Fox's Biscuits Stadium.

Max Jowitt’s early quickfire double gave Daryl Powell’s men a dream start and it appeared to be a case of how many points they could rack up going down the Mount Pleasant slope in the first half on their way, seemingly, to a comfortable fifth league win out of five.

But the Bulldogs, incredibly, fought back thanks to tries from Dale Morton and Alistair Leak to make it 12-12 at the break.

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A Josh Woods penalty, his second of the game, edged Batley in front for the first time after the interval but three tries in the space of seven minutes from Caleb Uele, Matty Ashurst and Jack Croft turned the game back in Wakefield’s favour, with Iain Thornley’s late effort cementing yet another victory - 34-14 - to keep them on top of the Championship table.

Mark Moxon, the Bulldogs’ head coach, had described the contest as “David and Goliath” before kick off. And Trinity showcased why they are such heavy favourites for an immediate return to Super League with a clinical display of finishing inside the opening eight minutes.

After Batley had threatened inside the opening minute through Lucas Walshaw, Trinity, in their first set, broke splendidly with the excellent Mason Lino darting down the centre of the pitch before finding the supporting Jowitt who did the rest.

And the visiting fans, who had travelled in their numbers across West Yorkshire, were celebrating soon after when Renouf Atoni, who returned to the starting line-up along with Liam Hood after missing last Sunday’s 50-6 rout at York Knights, bounced of numerous Batley defenders and found Jowitt for try number two, and his fifth so far in the Championship.

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Wakefield scored 30 points in the first half at York last week. It looked like Batley were going to receive a similar treatment.

But it’s in Batley’s DNA to never give up. To never say die. And that same attitude was on show when Morton dived over for his fifth try of the league campaign after the home side shifted the ball neatly from left to right.

Lachlan Walmsley, already on eight tries in the league after two hat-tricks, including a four-haul-try in the win at York, looked to make it try 101 of his career but he was deemed to be in touch after collecting Myles Lawford high kick.

And Batley took full advantage of that non-try when Alistair Leak pounced after a Woods high kick was not dealt with by Derrell Olpherts.

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A Woods penalty then made it 12-12 at the break. A scoreline that did not seem believable at the eighth minute mark.

It got even better after the break for the Bulldogs when Woods knocked over another penalty as Moxon’s men put their noses in front for the first time.

But after Uele powered over from close range in the 49th minute, Trinity did not look back. Captain Ashurst was next over, quickly followed by Croft after being played in by Walmsley.

A seven-minute flash of brilliance from the visitors. They had to wait until the 70th minute to put the icing on the cake through Thornley after a fantastic Lino pass as Batley failed to replicate their tremendous first half efforts.

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Batley: Butterworth, Morton, Kear, Buchanan, J Burton, White, Woods, Gledhill, Moore, Cooper, Manning, Walshaw, Brown

Interchanges: Leak, Flynn, Ward, Senior

Tries: Morton, Leak

Conversions: Woods

Penalties: Woods (2)

Wakefield: Jowitt, Olpherts, Thornley, Croft, Walmsley, Lawford, Lino, Bowden, Hood, Atoni, Ashurst, Griffin, Kay

Interchanges: Uele, Cozza, Rodwell, Doyle

Tries: Jowitt (2), Uele, Ashurst, Croft, Thornley

Conversions: Jowitt (4)

Penalties: Jowitt

Attendance: 2,572