Birkenshaw 30, Batley Boys 44
Batley wingman Rob Garforth took full advantage of Birkenshaw’s fragility out wide to plunder four tries in the Pennine League Championship Division One clash at East Bierley.
Birky made a dream start when the visitors failed to collect a high kick from scrum half Matt Honeysett, leaving a favourable bounce for stand-off Nathan Kitson to glide under the posts unopposed.
Kitson also added the extra two points – but the lead was shortlived as Batley prop forward Mal Kellett built up a head of steam to cross for a converted equaliser.
A speculative kick gave Garforth the opportunity to put loose forward Jonny Stainburn galloping to the whitewash. The lanky wingman then helped himself to a quick brace which, together with three conversions from hooker Adam Bingham, saw the Boys into the sheds 22-6 up.
Birkenshaw needed a fast response on the restart and substitute packman Paul Bancroft came up trumps with a powerhouse run to the chalk, leaving Kitson to slot over the extras.
But Batley re-established their advantage straight from the kick-off when the hosts dropped the ball in heavy traffic, presenting Bingham with a gift.
The match was once again in the melting pot when Kitson skilfully turned out of two tackles to claim his second try and made sure of full reward with the kick.
But Garforth punished the slow home cover to bag his hat-trick in the corner, before a silly ten-minute spell around the hour cost Birky dearly. First hooker Graham Nash was sent to the sin bin for a head-high tackle and substitute Trevor West quickly followed when he was caught punching in the tackle.
A sweeping raid saw Garforth in for his fourth try and second-row man Josh Whitehead made the Boys’ superior numbers count further when he won a kick-and-chase to put them out of sight at 44-18.
The referee was back in his pocket for the yellow card following a bout of fisticuffs from Bingham and home packman Steve Smith.
And ten-man Birkenshaw were left to contemplate what might have been when prop forward Anthony Lawton scored an absolute blinder with a looping 20-metre run in at the flag.
Wingman Tom Pickles gained some measure of revenge over Garforth when he handed him off to cross at the side of the sticks and Kitson closed the scoring with his fifth conversion.