Halifax suffered a significant defeat in the race for a top four finish in the Championship as Batley Bulldogs triumphed 32-16 at Mount Pleasant.
Richard Marshall’s visitors, so impressive against Widnes in the Challenge Cup last week, were very much in a nip-and-tuck contest at 20-16 with three minutes to go, when Batley full back Dave Scott scored the match clinching try.
Prop James Brown, a handful for the visiting defence all afternoon, then rumbled over in the last minute to give the scoreline a flattering gloss.
The visitors, playing down the ground’s famous slope, made a near perfect start, winning a penalty and scoring four plays later when the former Batley half back Gareth Moore’s chip kick was pounced on by centre Steve Tyrer.
Tyrer converted off the sideline and the rest of the opening half hour was predictably intense as both sides tried to establish dominance.
Batley eventually scored just before the half hour, half back Dominic Brambani unleashing a lovely kick that sat up perfectly for winger Wayne Reittie to score in the corner.
Pat Walker’s conversion attempt hit the post and bounced away, but the Bulldogs were over again six minutes later when centre Chris Ulugia poked his nose through the defensive line and found winger Shaun Ainscough, who touched down in the corner.
This time Walker was on target and he might have been lining up another attempt on the final play of the half had Ainscough managed to hold another Ulugia pass with the try line open.
Nevertheless, Batley would have been the more content with a 10-6 interval scoreline, although when Richard Moore stormed clear to put loan signing Matt Sarsfield under the posts three minutes into the second half, Tyrer converting, Halifax led 12-10.
Batley, who were almost mistake free for long periods of the game, regained the advantage with Reittie’s second and then went 20-12 up when Pat Walker grabbed a simple try from close range.
Trailing 20-12 inside the final quarter, Halifax needed something special and they got it courtesy of Ben Heaton, who powered over in the corner to cut the gap to 20-16.
But it was Scott and Batley who had the final word.
Halifax: Greenwood; Saltonstall, Heaton, Tyrer, Sharp; G. Moore, Murrell; Bennion, B. Moore, Tangata, Manning, Sarsfield, Fairbank. Subs: Kaye, Ambler, R. Moore, Robinson
Batley: Scott; Reittie, Minikin, Ulugia, Ainscough; Southernwood, Brambani; Hirst, Davey, Rowe, Chandler, Bretherton, Blake. Subs: Walker, Gledhill, Lillycrop, Brown
Referee: Matt Woodhead