Championship round-up: Away victories for Featherstone Rovers and Batley Bulldogs, as Halifax Panthers suffer second half slip up at York Knights

Featherstone Rovers produced another dominant performance to maintain their grip on the race for the Championship’s Leaders’ Shield, while Batley Bulldogs beat Barrow Raiders to leap up to third.
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Fev ran in 11 tries as they cruised to a 60-0 victory at Whitehaven. Mathieu Cozza, Caleb Aekins and Mark Kheirallah all grabbed doubles, while Connor Jones, Gadwin Springer, Arama Hau, Luke Briscoe and Joey Leilua all got in on the action.

In a delayed start after an incident on the M6, Rovers didn’t waste any time in asserting their dominance at the LEL Arena on their way to a 16th win out of 17 league games when Jones was the beneficiary of a fantastic break from Elijah Taylor after only eight minutes.

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Springer soon crashed through as Fev roared into a 12-0 lead before Springer found fellow Frenchman Cozza to go through for the afternoon’s third try.

Batley Bulldogs were victorious at Barrow Raiders. (Photo credit: Paul Butterfield)Batley Bulldogs were victorious at Barrow Raiders. (Photo credit: Paul Butterfield)
Batley Bulldogs were victorious at Barrow Raiders. (Photo credit: Paul Butterfield)

Try number four followed via Aekins crashing over and there was still for a fifth try before the hooter with Hau getting a deserved score.

The second half started like the first, with a Fev try - and you sensed it was going to be another long 40 for the home side; Cozza with his second after a short ball from John Davies.

Kheirallah did it all himself for his first try, catching up with his own grubber kick, which he also converted for a 40-0 advantage. The next try, however, was a brilliant team effort, ending with Briscoe scoring in the corner.

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Leilua added his name to the try sheet after a Logan Astley kick was knocked back into his path by Briscoe, before Kheirallah got his second. Aekins then got his double for the afternoon as Rovers romped to another comfortable Championship win.

James Saltonstall scored two tries at York Knights, but they weren't enough to secure a victory. (Photo credit: Simon Hall)James Saltonstall scored two tries at York Knights, but they weren't enough to secure a victory. (Photo credit: Simon Hall)
James Saltonstall scored two tries at York Knights, but they weren't enough to secure a victory. (Photo credit: Simon Hall)

50 miles south at Craven Park in Barrow, Batley Bulldogs edged to a nervy 12-6 victory. There was nothing to separate the sides at half-time, as no points were scored. But second half tries from Jimmy Meadows and Josh Hodson ensured Craig Lingard’s men returned to winning ways.

The Bulldogs’ seven-game winning streak came to an end last weekend against London Broncos and Lingard revealed his frustrations about the number of bodies in his squad before their trip to Cumbria.

And there were five changes to the 17 who were named in the 20-18 defeat with Aidan McGowan, Tom Lillycrop, Ben Kaye, Luke Blake and Greg Johnson all missing out.

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There was however, a massive positive with Leeds Rhinos’ Luke Hooley being named at full-back. Joshua Woods, James Brown, Samy Kibula and Keegan Hirst also returned.

The first half was littered with numerous interchanges for the home side, who had their own injury problems to deal with. But the home crowd did not have long to wait for the first points of the afternoon to be celebrated in the second half as Broadbent benefited from great work by Jarrod Sammut and Emslie to go over in the corner. There was barely a minute on the clock.

However, Batley produced an immediate response with Meadows crashing down close to the posts, with Hooley nailing the conversion.

It was soon level as the Raiders, through Ryan Shaw, converted a penalty after a high tackle on Danny Langtree, and it appeared both sides would have to settle for a draw.

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But after Ryan Johnstone attempted a drop-goal, which flew wide, for the home side, the visitors claimed maximum points in the final minute as Meadows combined with Hodson to snatch a dramatic victory.

The Panthers’ inconsistent season continued in their 28-18 loss at York Knights. After successive defeats to Batley and Toulouse, Halifax seemed to have got their campaign back on track with a three-game unbeaten run, but they were unable to make it four against a York side which kept fighting back in the first half.

James Woodburn-Hall gave Fax - who welcomed Zack McComb, Larroyer and Fonua into the 17 - the perfect start after collecting a Louis Jouffret high bomb before grounding under pressure.

Against the run of play, James Cunningham went over under the sticks to get the home side on level terms before the visitors went in front again.

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Woodburn-Hall turned provider this time, finding James Saltonstall for a score in the corner. All this in the first 13 minutes.

And they extended their lead eight minutes later as Saltonstall went over again after stepping inside and stretching over for a quick-fire double.

It seemed like a healthy 16-6 lead but, by half-time, it had evaporated as Jesse Dee and Myles Harrison went over.

A Jouffret penalty 14 minutes into the second half edged the Panthers in front, 18-16, but AJ Towse gave York the lead for the first time after racing 80 metres.

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It was a four-point game but after a series of errors, the Knights managed to make the game safe late on when Cunningham got his second of the game to secure a 28-18 win.

In the day’s other games, there were big wins for Bradford Bulls and London Broncos over Keighley Cougars and Newcastle Thunder respectively, while Swinton Lions produced a shock beat high-flying Sheffield Eagles, 30-22.