Rovers punish Batley’s dismal first-half show

Paul Sykes scored four tries and kicked six goals.
Paul Sykes scored four tries and kicked six goals.

Paul Sykes was the star of the show as Featherstone Rovers put their Championship top-four bid back on track by beating Batley Bulldogs 44-16 at Big Fellas Stadium on Sunday.

Sykes, who played at centre, scored a first-half hat trick of tries and grabbed his fourth touchdown in the final minute by cleverly dummying his way over.

The veteran former Great Britain player also converted six of Featherstone’s eight tries to finish with a personal haul of 28 points.

Rovers punished Batley’s dreadful first-half display by building a commanding 34-0 interval lead.

The Bulldogs improved greatly in the second period but it was far too late to avert their seventh defeat in eight matches.

Their flimsy defence was torn to shreds in the opening 40 minutes after Andy Ellis sparked the Rovers spree with his 99th career try.

Matt James then plunged over from close range before Sykes scored his first from Gareth Moore’s neat pass.

A lovely move involving Moore and Reni Maitua saw Sykes bag his second and he completed his hat-trick by bursting over from another Moore pass.

Luke Teasdale sent Jack Ormondroyd racing over to put Rovers out of sight at the break.

Batley battled back in the second-half to cut the deficit to 34-16.

Scott Leatherbarrow and Sam Scott set up a try for Shaun Ainscough before Alistair Leak darted over.

Alex Rowe’s powerful burst led to James Brown being held up over the line before Lee Mitchell forced his way through from close range and Leatherbarrow added his second goal.

The Bulldogs revival ended when Sykes sent in Ben Blackmore direct from a scrum in the 65th minute.

Batley’s James Brown failed to hold a pass with the try line wide open before Sykes rounded things off for Rovers in the dying seconds.

Featherstone Rovers: Hitchcox; Blackmore, Hardman, Sykes, Sharp; Milner, Moore; Baldwinson, Ellis, Wood, Cording, Maitua, James. Subs: Teasdale, Bostock, Verlinden, Ormondroyd.

Batley Bulldogs: Ainscough; Reittie, Squires, Bretherton, A Brown; Leek, Leatherbarrow, Hirst, Blake, Rowe, Mitchell, Day, J Brown. Subs: Gledhill, Hesketh, Scott, Chandler.

Referee: Mike Woodhead (St Helens).

Attendance: 2,067.