Batley Bulldogs 30 Keighley Cougars 0

Cougars player-coach Paul March refused to be downhearted after his side were comprehensively beaten in their final pre-season friendly today.

On Batley’s infamous sloped pitch at Mount Pleasant, Cougars were a distinct second best as they failed to register a single point against John Kear’s side.

Yet March took the positives from his side’s refusal to throw in the towel and believes they will be more than a match for Whitehaven in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship opener at Cougar Park.

The player-boss said: “We will be better for that game under our belts.

“The conditions and the pitch made it difficult to play much football and it was just a dogfight.

“Batley are used to playing here so we’re not reading too much into these friendlies and we’re looking forward to a big game next Sunday at home to Whitehaven.”

The result marked Cougars’ third straight pre-season friendly defeat following recent losses to Barrow and Dewsbury.

The game saw March start in the pack as Danny Jones and new recruit Paul Handforth were paired together in the halves for the first time.

Cougars were playing uphill in the first half and, on a muddy, rain-soaked field Batley quickly took the game by the scruff of the neck.

In front of the watching Huddersfield coach Paul Anderson, Batley included a number of dual-registered Giants players, including Ben Blackmore and Jake Connor.

They led in the sixth minute when Alex Bretherton took a short pass from Alistair Leak to cross in the right corner.

Cougars steadied themselves and repelled several Batley attacks before conceding a second try in the 23rd minute through Mark Applegarth.

The visitors forced Batley to drop out during the first half but in truth they created few try-scoring chances.

They did show admirable guts to protect their line at times before Batley grabbed a third try before the break when Lee Paterson crossed the line in the left corner from Connor’s pass.

That made it 16-0 at the break and, despite playing downhill in the second half, Cougars fell further behind in the 46th minute when Connor’s crossfield kick was touched down by Johnny Campbell.

Former Cougars scrum half Scott Leatherbarrow then burst clear of a tiring defence for a superb individual effort before another Keighley old boy, Joe Chandler, rounded off the scoring.