Batley Bulldogs 8, Keighley Cougars 10
Cougars player-coach Jason Demetriou was beaming with pride after his side claimed their first Co-operative Championship victory of the season today.
Demetriou’s men pushed Featherstone Rovers hard during last weekend’s season opener, and facing John Kear’s Bulldogs was seen as another stern test.
Yet the Northern Rail Cup quarter-finalists passed it with flying colours to kick-start their campaign in style at Mount Pleasant.
Batley began the brighter and were rewarded for their early vibrancy by taking the lead after just two minutes when Gareth Moore scored a try from a kick and then added the conversion.
The Bulldogs struggled badly for fluency thereafter while Cougars fashioned an impressive response and began to grow in confidence.
Demetriou’s men were rewarded a minute before the break when Jy-Mel Coleman dived over in the right corner for a try which Danny Jones converted.
The hosts responded again with a Moore penalty after 60 minutes but Cougars were always a threat and 11 minutes from time centre James Haythornthwaite darted over for what proved the crucial score.
Demetriou was fulsome in his praise of his men afterwards and said the victory was a tribute to his side’s defensive resilience.
The Australian, who played under Batley boss Kear at Wakefield, said: “I thought defensively we were excellent - we were very tough to break down.
“There is still plenty to work on in attack but the desire and commitment of the players was first class.
“The try just before the break was massive for us. We had been pulled back four or five times in the first half but that was credit to Batley’s good defence.
“We knew it was going to be tough but it was just good to come through with a win from a tough game. It’s something we haven’t done in a while.”
Bulldogs coach Kear could not hide his disappointment and branded the performance his side’s worst display of the season.
“We weren’t good enough to meet Keighley’s challenge and the better team won,” he said.