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Monday, 21 April 2014

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New-look Whitehaven have something to build on

Whitehaven 26 Batley Bulldogs 12: Youthful Whitehaven ushered in a new era in fine style with a fantastic win over the Northern Rail Cup Final winners yesterday.

Spencer Miller photo
Spencer Miller: Fit for Workington derby

They may have suffered relegation in a disastrous campaign but wins in their last two league matches suggest the new-look Cumbrians may be a force in Championship One next term.

Understandably, David Seeds could not have been happier with the performance in his first game in charge, with players at both ends of the age spectrum responding to the caretaker coach.

Leroy Joe and Howard Hill yet again defied their veteran status, while teenage full-back Shane Ackerley was also outstanding, following on from his superb debut at Keighley last week.

Dual registration prop Kyle Amor, back at the Recre from Leeds Rhinos, showed what he’s capable of with one of his best efforts of the campaign, Spencer Miller was immense in defence and classy centre Scott McAvoy scored a long-range solo try.

The seventh-minute touchdown set the tone, McAvoy evading his marker and winning a 60-metre sprint to the line.

Dylan Skee’s conversion attempt bounced out off a post, but the Aussie was in the thick of the action again 10 minutes later, his long-distance clearing kick sailing over the heads of the cover with John Gallagher then losing possession 10 metres from his line.

Danny Barker charged for the posts and slipped a fine short pass to Amor for the prop to cross, Skee converting.

Amor was strong throughout, and he used his power and footwork to evade three tackles in midfield before finding Spencer Miller who put winger Loz Hamzat in at the corner.

Skee’s conversion put Haven 16-0 up and they could have crossed again on the next set, the lively Chris Smith putting Bradd Crellin in to space, only for the youngster to be closed down by pacey Johnny Campbell.

Bulldogs winger Lee Greenwood looked to be heading for a full-length try as he collected Skee’s kick on his line, but Ackerley flew across to take him to ground on the half-way line, an appreciative crowd letting the full-back know what they thought of his great effort.

Batley were on the back foot and went further behind when Joe’s bomb was palmed back by McAvoy in to the arms of Spencer Miller who touched down, Skee booting the goal.

The visitors re-gathered from a short kick-off and went on to force a drop-out, yet there was still no way through the ferocious Haven defence.

As the half-time hooter sounded, Haven trooped off as one unit, purposefully, knowing the job had not yet been completed.

The Bulldogs threatened a second-half comeback when Campbell latched on to hooker Kris Lythe’s long-range break to go between the sticks on 55 minutes.

Paul Handforth converted and then put sub Craig Potter in to a gap, Joe’s ankle tap defusing the danger as he headed in to open space.

Handforth’s 40-20 kick again had Haven defending deep, useful prop Sean Hesketh barging over for another try.

Haven kicked in to touch on the full from the restart and Hesketh was held up over their line.

But Bradd Crellin eased nerves on 68 minutes, the back-rower stripping the ball and racing for the whitewash at the Kells End.

Haven were in high spirits on the final whistle, posing for team photos. Their smiles were surely not for what has happened this season, but for what the last few games, when youngsters have been given their chance, have shown may be possible next season at the lower level. Roll on 2011.

Haven: Ackerley, Hamzat, McAvoy, D Miller, Rossi, Joe, Skee, Thornley, Mattinson, Hill, S Miller, S Fox, Barker. Subs: Smith, Crellin, Amor, Wilton.

Tries: McAvoy, Amor, Hamzat, S Miller, Crellin; Goals: Skee 3

Batley: Preece, Campbell, Barlow, Mann, Greenwood, Handforth, Moore, Smith, Lythe, Hesketh, Walton, Gallagher, Lindsay. Subs: Govin, Potter, Martin, Toothill.

Tries: Campbell, Hesketh; Goals: Handforth 1, Moore 1

Attendance: 706

Referee: M Thomason

Star Man: Shane Ackerley



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