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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Whitehaven go second after beating strugglers Batley

Whitehaven 20 Batley Bulldogs 12: Whitehaven ground out another result to move them into second place in the Championship – on level pegging with leaders Barrow Raiders – but it was not a pretty display against relegation-threatened Batley.

Whitehaven action photo
Jamie Theoharous is hit as he takes the ball in

Leroy Joe played a wily part in Haven extracting the three crucial points for the leadership race and there were big displays from forwards Andy Gorski, Karl Edmondson and Jamie Theoharous.

It looked as though Haven were in complete control as they racked up an 18-0 lead by the break, despite some dubious refereeing decisions from French official Drizza for both sides.

But as the weather played its part as the rain and wind turned into blazing sunshine and then reverted back, interrupting game plans, the second half was a much more dour affair and Batley actually outscored Haven to do enough to earn a bonus point, which could prove very crucial to them come the end of the season.

Haven were on the scoreboard in the opening minute of the game, Theoharous received the ball in the middle of the park and stepped his way through a dazed Batley defence to score, with Carl Rudd converting for 6-0.

At this point fans must have thought they were in for a big score but then play swung to the opposite end of the park and winger Ade Adebisi, on his return to first team action, was called in to save a try.

Danny Maun looked as though he would cross to open Batley’s account but Adebisi wrapped him up to end the attack.

Haven were dealt an early blow when Howard Hill was helped off the field with a leg injury on 11 minutes and he took no further part in the game, returning to watch on crutches.

But shortly after Batley knocked on and gave Haven good field position and they could not halt the powerful run of Kyle Amor, who shrugged of the challenges of Batley defenders to go through and score Haven’s second, Rudd again adding the extras for 12-0.

Then, on 26 minutes Haven made it 18-0 as on the last tackle Leroy Joe released Andy Gorski, he ran to the line and popped the ball out of the tackle to the supporting Scott McAvoy and he made no mistake, leaving Rudd to add his third goal of the game. McAvoy thought he had crossed again shortly after but it was chalked off for offside and then Rudd missed the final kick of the half when Haven were awarded a penalty.

The game was then deadlocked for much of the second half with defences on top. And Haven lost Graeme Mattinson for 10 minutes after a blatant interference at the play-the-ball.

As Batley stepped up they had a couple of good chances, Johnny Campbell just being put into touch and then they had a try disallowed for a forward pass.

The deadlock was finally broken when a great chip over the top from Batley’s Paul Mennell set the ball rolling for the visitors.

It was collected by Paul Handforth, who passed it back in to Mennell and he released the powerful Jon Simpson, who pushed his way over the line. Mennell added the conversion and Batley were back in the game at 18-6.

But a penalty from the boot of Gregg McNally edged Haven away from giving up the bonus point, however Batley kept pressing and they got their reward in the final minute.

Mennell raced through the gap and touched down, before converting himself for a final score of 20-12.

Haven: Benson, Adebisi, McAvoy, Ballard, Calvert, Rudd, Joe, Hill, Mattinson, Edmondson, Gorski, Miller, Theoharous. Subs (all used): Amor, Jackson, McNally, Thornley.

Tries: Theoharous, Amor, McAvoy; Goals: Rudd (3), McNally (1).

Batley: Preece, McGilvary, Barlow, Maun, Campbell, Handforth, Mennell, Smith, Lythe, Stenchion, Crouthers, Potter, Lindsay. Subs (all used): Simpson, Toothill, Gallagher, Toohey.

Tries: Simpson, Mennell; Goals: Mennell (2).

Sin bins: Batley – Lythe; Whitehaven – Mattinson.

Referee: M Drizza.

Attendance: 1,550.

Man of the match: Leroy Joe

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