Sheffield Eagles put in a massive defensive performance to earn a crucial 16-12 victory at Batley Bulldogs.
It wasn’t pretty, there were plenty of mistakes but in the sun and battling up Batley’s famous sloping pitch in the second half the Eagles held on to a narrow lead.
Prop Eddie Battye in for his first game since being injured in the Grand Final win over Batley last year put in some big sets. Back row forwards Matt Garside, Michael Knowles and stand-off Patch Walker worked hard in a tense game.
The win keeps the club in touch with the Championship leaders but coach Mark Aston felt the players had made hard work for themselves by not following the game plan.
He said: “We shouldn’t have been defending that much. We showed a bit of steel and our attitude in defence had to be first class but too many people did what they wanted to do.”
There was a mixed start to the game for winger Misi Taulapapa who couldn’t take a high kick from Scott Leatherbarrow and centre Josh Griffin touched down to give Batley the lead. With his next touch Taulapapa put the Eagles level taking a Brambani kick to touch down in the corner.
Leatherbarrow edged Batley ahead with a penalty but a burst of pressure by the Eagles was rewarded with Menzie Yere’s pass sending in winger Scott Turner for his 14th try of the season. Brambani added the goal for a 10-6 lead at half-time.
Eagles got a boost from the restart with Peter Aspinall blasting over under the posts from Bambani’s pass – the first try for the forward on loan from Huddersfield. Brambani added the goal.
Batley narrowed the lead to four points with Alex Bretherton taking a wild pass from Ben Black to score and Leatherbarrow adding the goal.
The final tense 20 minutes saw the Eagles defending hard as Batley tried to avoid a fourth defeat in a row.
Alex Rowe and Vinny Finigan almost spoilt the day for their former club but the Eagles weren’t going to let the three points slip away.