FIVE first-half tries followed by 40 minutes of backs-to-the-wall defending kept Sheffield Eagles’ winning run going.
The Eagles made sure playing down the famous Mount Pleasant pitch counted as they amassed a 28-4 lead by the break.
Then it was down to desperate defending as they grimly held Batley to two late tries to make it five wins on the bounce – their best run since promotion to the Championship five seasons ago.
“The first half we were pretty good and we got across the whitewash a few times but then went away from the game plan and in the second half our completion rate was disappointingly low. It’s five out of five and now we have to keep the momentum going,” said coach Mark Aston.
Eagles grabbed two tries in the opening six minutes. The first with almost their first spell of possession as following Simon Brown 40-20 kick and the scrum, Dane McDonald’s pass sent in Quentin Laulu-Togagae.
Hooker Andrew Henderson dived over from dummy half close to the line and Brown added both goals.
Batley pulled four points back with a try from Daley Williams but a series of substitutions helped give the Eagles new momentum.
Prop Ryan Hepworth came off the bench and blasted holes in the Batley line before McDonald found Menzie Yere with a long pass and the centre went over.
Eagles stepped up their game with loose forward Joe Hirst crashing in from dummy half and a 30-metre break from Laulu-Togagae, who had switched to stand-off, sent winger Vinny Finigan on to finish the job. Brown added the goals for 28-4 lead at half-time.
From the restart Batley stormed downhill and laid siege to the Eagles’ line.
It was met with massive defence with Finigan outstanding after switching to fullback and second row Peter Green putting in a full 80 minutes.
Set after set was played out in the Eagles 20 metre zone but Batley was denied until 61 minutes when George Flanagan forced his way over and added the goal.
Tempers frayed and Henderson and Danny Mills were put on report after clashes with Batley players.
A late try from Johnny Campbell and the goal from Flanagan gave Batley a losing bonus point but the Eagles had the win wrapped up.
Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Finigan, Yere, Crookes, Bergin; McDonald, Brown; Howieson, Henderson, Stringer, Szostak, Green, Hirst. Subs: Rowe, Hanson, Hepworth, 2 Mills.
Tries: Laulu-Togagae, 2, Henderson, 6, Yere, 18, Hirst, 30, Finigan, 35.
Goals: Brown 4/5.
Batley: Campbell; Rettie, Williams, Maun, Brown; Hanforth, Toohey; Smith, Lythe, Potter, Bretherton, Manning, Lindsay. Subs: Flanagan, Hesketh, Buttery, Toothill.
Tries: Willliams, 15, Flanagan, 61, Campbell 78. Goals: Flanagan 2/2.
Referee: Gareth Hewer
Penalties: Batley 9 Eagles 5.