An Unpleasant trip to the Mount for Sheffield
Sheffield Eagles competed well against Batley Bulldogs at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium but were beaten 32-22 by the promotion-chasers.
The Eagles were four points down - 14-10 - at half-time after attacking uphill but they couldn’t overturn the deficit in the second period.
Dane Manning scored both of Batley’s tries in the first period and he opened the scoring on ten minutes as he was fed through a gap in the Eagles defence. Tom Gilmore converted.
The response from Sheffield was swift, as almost the exact same try was scored at the other end courtesy of Connor Bower. Josh Guzdek couldn’t convert.
Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e put the visitors ahead for their only lead of the evening on 35 minutes, a Guzdek conversion followed, but it would be a short-lived advantage.
Manning completed his brace, converted by Gilmore, before the half-back kicked a penalty with two minutes remaining in the half.
Half-time - Batley Bulldogs 14-10 Sheffield Eagles
A penalty conceded by the Eagles in the first set of the second half would have infuriated Mark Aston. Even more so considering Batley capitalised on the territory as Luke Hooley picked up a loose ball to touch down. Gilmore added the extras once again.
Sheffield were attacking downhill and their first real chance came after Cory Aston’s 40/20 was batted dead by Dale Morton. Joel Farrell, against his former side, hit a fine line to score next to the sticks. Guzdek converted.
Vila Halafihi’s try-saving tackle on Hooley gave Sheffield more belief but they would hit the post a couple of times in their attempt to level the game. Guzdek almost had a walk-in from full-back but knocked on a pass before Liam Kirk dotted down but it came from a forward pass by Anthony Thackeray.
After collecting a Gilmore kick, Guzdek passed to Matty Chrimes who knocked on deep inside the Eagles half and Batley didn’t waste the opportunity. Throwing the ball left, Batley found the open man in Johnny Campbell who had a simple enough score. Gilmore’s conversion put Batley ten points up.
Gilmore would be at the heart of Batley’s final try of the evening, five minutes from time, as he shaped to kick but threw a dummy before crossing the whitewash. Another conversion from the half-back sealed victory.
Despite the result already being decided, Sheffield certainly didn’t knock off early and that was shown as they claimed the last points of the game. Aston was on the end of a Farrell offload and his kick to Thackeray bounced perfectly for the scrum-half. Guzdek’s conversion put Sheffield to within ten points of their opponents come the final hooter.
Full-time - Batley Bulldogs 32-22 Sheffield Eagles
By Dan Fowler, photo by Alex Coleman