At a rain soaked OLP, the Eagles had to work hard in a nervy, and at times fractious encounter, but tries from Joel Farrell, Jacob Ogden and Oliver Davies ensured a return to Wembley for the first time since their famous Challenge Cup success against Wigan back in 1998.
Batley were the quickest out of the blocks and were denied the first try after Wayne Reittie was deemed to have stepped in touch, and shortly after Ryan Millar spilled Louis Jouffret’s spiraling kick, but the visitors wasted a presentable opportunity after flinging the ball into touch on the second tackle.
On 17 minutes it was Batley’s turn to fluff their lines under the high ball in monsoon conditions, but the Eagles were halted as they camped on the visitors’ line.
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After several minutes of persistence from the hosts, they were finally rewarded when Pat Walker’s grubber was touched down by the onrushing Farrell, and Walked nailed the conversion.
The visitors were on the board eight minutes before the break, as Jouffret opted for two after the Bulldogs won back-to-back penalties.
The Eagles were now on the front foot and before the break Millar was denied as he headed for corner, whilst on the stroke of half-time Corey Makelim’s grubber in goal was diffused in the nick of time as Aaron Brown closed in.
After the break a teasing Anthony Thackeray kick deflected off the post into the grateful grasp of Dave Scott who juggled before holding on under pressure.
Both sides traded handling errors in the slippery conditions, with Alistair Leak relieved after his spill in front of his own sticks didn’t prove costly after some dogged Batley defence.
The visitors were having to withstand some heavy pressure, but Farrell thought he’d breached their defences only to see his try chalked off for a double movement.
On 66 minutes Batley finally buckled as Walker’s pass was carried over the whitewash by Jacob Ogden, and Walked slotted the extras.
Farrell went close again soon after but just failed to touch down Walker’s grubber into the in-goal area.
The game was sealed late on when Davies burrowed over for a converted try to add the gloss, sparking scenes of jubilation amongst the home faithful.
Eagles: Guzdek; Millar, Ogden, Hellewell, Blackmore; Walker, Thackeray; Pick, G. Burns, Knowles; Farrell, Davies; Brown. Interchange: Makelim, Broadbent, Mason, P. Burns.
Scorers: Tries: Farrell (27), Ogden (65), Davies (79) Goals: Walker 3/3
Batley: Scott; Reittie, Smeaton, Broadbent, Campbell; Jouffret, Brambani; Gledhill, Leak, Dickinson; Downs, Manning; Brierley. Interchange: Bienek, Brown, Everett, Wood.
Scorers: Goals: Jouffret 1/1
Referee: Gareth Hewer