Sheffield Eagles 14-28 Batley Bulldogs
Monday 2nd April 2018, 15:00pm
Championship - Round: 9
Joshua Toole, Olly Davies, Ryan Millar,
Dave Scott, Dane Manning, Pat Walker, Wayne Reittie, Tom Hemingway,
Pat Walker 4,
Sheffield Eagles were unable to win a second consecutive Betfred Championship match as Batley Bulldogs triumphed 28-14 at the Olympic Legacy Park.
The Eagles had a 10-4 lead at the break thanks to tries from Joshua Toole and Oliver Davies but Batley fought back after the restart to take the spoils.
Despite Matt James and Greg Burns both going close, Sheffield could only add a lone try to their second half tally as Ryan Millar crossed.
Mark Aston brought Ben Blackmore and Jack Ashworth back into the fold, the latter for Nabil Djalout who faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Similarly to the Good Friday tie against Rochdale, the Eagles started on the front foot and got a reward for it.
Full-back Matty Costello passed towards the right flank for Toole to power over from close range. Oscar Thomas was off target with the conversion.
Sheffield’s inability to build pressure has been evident throughout the season but they had no trouble in the opening quarter of this one.
Two goal-line dropouts saw the Bulldogs penned in and the pressure told when Davies rocketed on to a flat ball for the hosts’ second score. This time, Thomas converted and the Eagles were more than worthy of their ten-point lead.
A Garry Lo break straight from kickoff put Sheffield on the front foot once again but the set ended with Costello throwing the ball into touch.
Unfortunately for Sheffield, this would be a theme throughout the afternoon as they let Batley off the hook on a number of occasions.
The Eagles’ spirited defence lasted till the 35 minutes when Dave Scott scooted through a gap to touch down. Walker couldn’t convert, and he was off target again when he misfired a penalty goal shortly after.
Moments after the restart, Batley were given an opportunity due to a James Bentley knock-on. They capitalised.
A goal-line dropout put more pressure on the Eagles defence and the Bulldogs crossed through Dane Manning.
On 55 minutes, another Eagles error would prove costly. Daniel Igbinedion fumbled while bringing the ball away from deep inside his own half.
The scrum play from ex-Eagle Pat Walker was textbook. He sold a brilliant dummy and walked over the whitewash. He added the extras.
Salt was rubbed into Sheffield’s wounds when the visitors registered their third try of the half before the final quarter.
Wayne Reittie had a simple finish in the corner, which was also converted by Walker.
The Eagles were staring down the barrel at 10-22 and they needed to respond. Thankfully, a risky first tackle play saw Ben Blackmore flick a ball to Millar who couldn’t be stopped.
Thomas’ missed conversion left the deficit at two scores, though.
With ten minutes remaining, captain James – who won yet another Man of the Match award - looked to have touched down on the white line but the referee gave a knock-on.
The final score went the Bulldogs’ way as Tom Hemingway fielded an offload and did the rest. Walker converted.
Sheffield stay 11th in the Betfred Championship ahead of their clash with basement club Swinton Lions at Heywood Road on Sunday