RUGBY LEAGUE: Eagles batter Bulldogs for flying play-off start

Dom Brambani is stopped by Jason Walton
Dom Brambani is stopped by Jason Walton
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Eagles’ boss Mark Aston’s decision to recall Simon Brown paid dividends as the Batley Bulldogs were muzzled in the opening round of the Championship play-offs.

Brown, who joins York Knights at the end of the season, was restored to stand-off and turned in a match-winning performance in which winger Scott Turner claimed a hat-trick of tries.

The win books the Eagles a trip to Halifax in the second knockout round next Sunday.

“It was outstanding, to do what we did to a very good team and take them to pieces and score 42 points in a game of massive importance is a credit to the players,” said Aston. “Simon Brown was outstanding, particularly in the first 40 minutes. He put the ball in the right areas.”

Batley’s Gareth Moore kicked an early penalty but the Eagles were soon scoring tries with Michael Knowles’ kick bouncing back behind Menzie Yere for winger Turner to score. From a scrum Eagles switched the ball right and Taulapapa hugged the line before touching down. Brown kicked both goals.

Eagles killed the game with two tries in two minutes. Quentin Laulu-Togagae’s pass found Joe Hirst to touch down and Brown’s long kick to the corner was fumbled and Turner came in for the try.

Brown converted one of the tries and on half-time kicked a penalty from the half-way line to give the Eagles a 24-2 lead.

Eagles scored the first points of the second half on 57 minutes with Taulapapa forcing his way in. Brown’s touchline kick hit an upright and went in.

Paul Mennell was shown a yellow card for throwing a punch and the Bulldogs were made to pay with Mitch Stringer getting the ball free as he was tackled for Hirst to go under the posts. Brown added the goal.

Batley’s discipline had gone, penalties were mounting and Sheffield’s substitute hooker James Davey was taken off after being knocked out in an incident. Within a minute Mark Appplegarth joined Mennell in the sin bin.

Batley got two late tries from Johnny Campbell and Alex Walmsley with Moore kicking a goal but they were poor consolation sandwiched between Turner completing his hat-trick and Brown kicking his seventh goal.

EAGLES: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Yere, Straugheir, Taulapapa; Brown, Brambani; Howieson, Henderson, Stringer, Knowles, Scott, McDonald. Subs: Davey, Peter Green, Joe Hirst, Higgins,

Tries: Turner, 22, 34, 74, Taulapapa, 28, 57, Hirst, 32, 64,

Goals: Brown 7/8.