Sheffield Eagles 26 Batley Bulldogs 16
SHEFFIELD Eagles went into top spot in the Championship with two tries from Samoan international Quentin Laulu-Togagae either side of half-time setting up the win.
It meant there was no happy return to Sheffield for Batley coach John Kear who led the Eagles to their 1998 Challenge Cup final win over Wigan.
Eagles took the lead on nine minutes with centre Menzie Yere burst through a hesitant Batley defence to touch down Michael Knowles chip kick.
The Eagles kept up the pressure with props Mitch Stringer and Jack Howieson putting in some good carries and Knowles threatening to bust the line.
Black put Batley level going in from dummy half 20 metres out as a massive gap opened in the Eagles line. The stand-off created the second with a chip over the defence for second rower Alex Bretherton to collect. Gareth Moore added the goal.
Batley were dominating possession giving Black and Moore the chance to probe the Eagles line but strong defence kept the Bulldogs out.
Eagles took back the lead with two tries in three minutes. A penalty lifted the pressure and helped by back-to-back sets Laulu-Togagae weaving his way in.
Centre Duane Straugheir got the video ref’s vote after he forced his way over from Joe Hirst’s pass and two touchline kicks by Brown put the Eagles 16-10 ahead at half-time.
Laulu-Togagae backed himself after taking an offload from Yere to go 50 metres brushing aside a Batley defender to extend the Eagles lead. Brown added the goal.
Batley came back pinning the Eagles in their 20 metre zone for long spells but for all the possession they couldn’t find the crucial pass or a way though.
Sloppy handling by the Bulldogs didn’t help as they gave away good position early in sets. That was punished when McDonald provided a shot pass for Yere to crash over for his second try.
Batley hit back with winger Gareth Potts collecting a chip kick to go in and Moore added the goal but there was no late Batley revival.
Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Finigan, Yere, Straugheir, Morrison; Brown, Brambani; Howieson, Henderson, Stringer, Knowles, McDonald, Hirst. Subs: Turner, Green, Szostak, Higgins.
Tries: Yere (2), Laulu-Togagae (2) , Straugheir, 36,
Batley: Preece; Potts, Walton, Maun, Brown; Black, Moore; Smith, Lythe, Green, Bretherton, Grehan, Applegarth. Subs: Palfrey, Hirst, Walmsley, Lindsay.
Tries: Black, Bretherton, Potts.
Ref: Ronnie Laughton.