Oldham and Swinton keep survival hopes alive + Championship Shield reports

Batley Bulldogs 44-18 Bradford Bulls – Batley Bulldogs moved to within a point of a home semi-final in the Championship Shield as they beat Bradford Bulls 44-18 at the Provident Stadium. Alistair Leak and James Harrison both scored hat-tricks for the visitors, who had a slow start against Bradford but bounced back in fine style.

The Bulls scored the opening two tries of the afternoon thanks to Sam Hallas and Liam Kirk, with Cory Aston kicking both conversions. However, Batley soon replied with a barrage of scores to go three scores in front by half-time. Five tries in just over ten minutes turned the game on its head completely and put the Bulldogs in the driving seat. Leak and Harrison completed their brace and hat-trick respectively.

After the restart Brad Day, Dom Brambani and Leak all crossed the whitewash as Batley neared their half-century. Bradford registered a consolation effort with two minutes to go. Iliess Macani found his way to the try-line to end a disappointing afternoon for the League 1 bound hosts.

Dewsbury Rams 28-35 Swinton Lions – Swinton Lions defied the odds to beat the in-form Dewsbury Rams 35-28 at Tetley’s Stadium. With Oldham beating Rochdale, the Lions moved closer to the Hornets at the expense of not gaining ground on the Roughyeds.

Swinton broke the deadlock after four minutes as Chris Hankinson touched down, before converting his own try. Gareth Potts responded for the Rams, while Paul Sykes levelled matters from the tee. The Lions edged in front soon after with a penalty from Hankinson but the Lions soon extended their advantage with a try from Ben White following a Mike Butt break. Hankinson added the extras for a two score lead. With six minutes remaining of the first period, Josh Barlow touched down and things got better when Hankinson kicked two goals – including the conversion – in quick succession. Moments before half-time, Dom Speakman crossed to cut the deficit to 12 points which went down to 10 when Sykes kicked the conversion.

It took until the hour mark for the next points of the game, and it went the way of Swinton and outside back Ilias Bergal. Hankinson’s conversion was off target. Lucas Walshaw kept the Rams in with a shout as he scored in the 66th minute but Sykes didn’t convert. A penalty for the Lions gave the visitors a 12 point lead after Hankinson knocked over the goal. Seven minutes were left when White kicked a drop goal, but the Rams responded through an Aaron Brown try. Sykes converted and Dewsbury were smelling blood. The hosts set up a tense finish when they scored another four-pointer, this time courtesy of Sam Day. Sykes made it a one point game at 28-29 with the conversion. The Lions got their reward for a great performance when Ben Austin sealed the win with a last minute try, converted by Hankinson.

Rochdale Hornets 24-30 Oldham – Rochdale Hornets may be feeling tentative about their Championship survival hopes as Oldham cut the gap to one point with a 30-24 win at the Crown Oil Arena. Swinton also won as they moved to within a point of the Hornets.

Joe Burke scored the first try of the game for Oldham in the fifth minute, with Luke Hooley converting. Chris Riley replied for Rochdale as he got on the end of a Lewis Palfrey pass to touch down in the corner. Palfrey couldn’t convert. Luke Adamson got the Roughyeds back up and running as Riley turned from hero to zero by dropping a bomb from Dave Hewitt. Hooley on target from the tee again. In response, Jake Eccleston crossed the whitewash for the hosts but Palfrey’s conversion went wide. At 12-8 up, Oldham were looking to push on and they did just that thanks to a Hooley penalty and Adam Clay try, which was scored moments after Rochdale centre Lewis Galbraith was sin-binned for a trip. Scott Leatherbarrow couldn’t convert. At half-time, the Roughyeds led 18-8.

On 47 minutes, Ryan Maneely bagged a try from dummy-half which cut the deficit to four points following Palfrey’s first successful conversion of the match. In the final quarter, Burke completed his brace and Hooley took over the kicking duties to extend Oldham’s lead to ten points at 24-14. Five minutes remained when Rob Massam scored to give Rochdale a chance of nicking the spoils but Palfrey’s missed conversion – his third of the match – meant there was still six points separating the teams. And soon after Massam’s try, Hooley wrapped up the game for the Roughyeds as he supported a Hewitt break to score. The on-loan Wakefield man converted but there was still time for a consolation try for the Hornets through Jo Taira.

Toulouse Olympique 32-16 Sheffield Eagles – Sheffield Eagles put up a great fight but were beaten 32-16 by Toulouse Olympique at Stade Ernest Argeles on Bank Holiday Monday. With a number of players rested due to niggling injuries, Mark Aston handed debuts to Jonah Cunningham and Liam Cooper from St Helens while Toulouse welcomed back star half-back Johnathon Ford.

It was Sheffield who got on the scoresheet first thanks to the ever-impressive Garry Lo. The PNG winger has had a remarkable season and he added to his tally for the year as the visitors went in front after eight minutes. Simon Brown knocked over the conversion. Quick-fire tries from Clement Boyer and Ford gave Toulouse a slender advantage as they aimed to take hold of the game despite Sheffield’s opening score. Perry Whiteley was taken off with an eye injury after the former Workington man was copped with a stray thumb. Bastien Ader notched the final try of the first half as Toulouse went into the break 16-6 to the good.

Stan Robin and Duane Straugheir exchanged tries for Toulouse and Sheffield respectively in the opening stages of the second half. Unfortunately for the Eagles they couldn’t stay in close contact with their French opponents as Mark Kheirallah and Maxime Puech crossed the whitewash either side of the hour mark. Ben Blackmore registered a consolation score for the Eagles as they moved to within three scores of Toulouse by the finish.