Batley Bulldogs racked up a third straight win of pre-season as they defeated a young Castleford Tigers side 38-12 on a bitterly cold night at Fox’s Biscuits Stadium.
Castleford opted to play virtually their entire Under-19s side and Batley took full advantage as they raced into a 20-0 lead inside the opening 15 minutes but it is testament to the young Tigers that they battled back to 20-12 at half-time.
The Tigers had the advantage of playing down hill after the break but Batley’s solid defence kept them at bay to prevent further points, while the Bulldogs added a further three unanswered tries to complete victory and they now head to Toulouse for next week’s opening Championship game full of confidence.
Batley went ahead inside a minute as Castleford knocked on from the kick off and the Bulldogs moved quickly left from the scrum, with second rowe James Harrison forcing his way over.
Batley stormed back down the slope following a Dominic Brambani break and as the Bulldogs again moved left, Harrison popped up to score his second try.
Patch Walker landed both conversions from wide out as the Bulldogs led 12-0.
Castleford finally looked to have gained possession when a Batley pass flew into touch only for them to knock on from the resulting scrum and as the Bulldogs stormed back down the slope, Dave Scott scooted through a gap and over for their third try in nine minutes.
Brambani kicked through and Sam Smeaton hacked the ball on for winger Wayne Reittie to cross again and at 20-0 inside 15 minutes, Castleford were really up against it.
To their credit, the Tigers hit back up the slope led by scrum-half Tom Holmes and giant prop Will Maher - who will both join the Bulldogs on loan next week.
Holmes produced a neat offload for Kieran Gill to cross and Jake Sweeting converted.
Further Cas pressure was rewarded when Connor Fitzsimmonds produved a lovely long pass to send Dec Sheehan over in the corner and 17-year-old Sweeting showed his ability by adding a wonderful touchline goal.
Cas had their moments after the break but were repelled by a fine Bulldogs defensive effort.
Batley extended their lead four minutes after the re-start when Alex Rowe gathered Alistair Leak’s offload to crash over between the posts and Brambani converted.
The pick of Batley’s tries came on the hour when half-backs Cain Southernwood and Brambani linked to send Scott racing through a gap and over for his second try, which Brambani improved.
Batley showed their determination when a brilliant covering defence forced Jack Render into touch short of the try line.
Batley added a seventh try four minutes from full-time when James Davey produced a neat offload to send Brad Hill over and Southernwood took over the kicking duties to convert and seal a very satisfactoy victory.
Batley Bulldogs: Scott; Reittie, Smeaton, Hallett, Ainscough; Southernwood, Brambani; Hill, Leak, Rowe, Manning, Harrison, Walker. Subs: J Brown, Davey, O’Sullivan, Bravo, Chandler, Bretherton, Hayward, Squires.
Castleford Tigers: Sweeting; Sheehan, Gill, Egodo, Turner; McLelland, Holmes; Douglas, Million, Maher, Johnson, Fitzsimmonds, O’Neil. Subs: Render, Dixon, Igbinedion, Burns, Storey, Goodall, Trueman, Kear.
Referee: Nick Bennett.