A young and largely inexperienced Wildcats went down to a narrow defeat against Batley on a miserable afternoon at Mount Pleasant.
Tries from Sam Fletcher, Lucas Walshaw and Danny Cowling had given the Wildcats a 14-6 lead after fifty minutes but a dogged response from John Kear’s side saw them overturn the deficit and earn themselves a second pre-season victory over Super League opposition.
Richard Agar gave the likes of Oliver Wilkes, Kyle Amor and Frankie Mariano the chance to shine ahead of next Friday’s Stobart Super League opener against Widnes Vikings in a starting line-up that contained twelve members of the full-time squad.
With the considerable slope in their favour in the first half it was the Bulldogs who took the lead just four minutes into the game. Andy Ellis was pulled back for a forward pass and from the resulting set Tom Henderson stabbed a grubber towards the left upright, hit the target and Frodsham was there to flop on the loose ball to score.
A largely forgettable opening 25 minutes was sparked into life when Amor raced through a gaping hole in the Bulldogs defence to get the Wildcats on the front foot and three tackles later it was Kyle Woods’ cut-out ball that got Fletcher on the outside of former Wildcat Gareth Potts to get in at the corner.
Dale Morton’s excellent touchline conversion ensured the sides were level at the end of a turgid forty minutes of rugby league.
Attacking down the hill in the second period, the Wildcats would no doubt have been looking to make their superior fitness tell as the game wore on and it seemed that was going to be the case early on.
A repeat set put the Bulldogs under pressure and Matty Wildie found Walshaw for the powerful centre to go over.
But it came at a cost for Wildie who was taken out in delivering the pass and was forced to sit out the rest of the game.
Minutes later and the second half took another turn for the better as Cowling chased down Liam Kay’s kick to the corner, and with the Bulldogs waiting for the ball to run dead, the young centre slid in to get his hand to the ball and touchdown.
As Agar rang the changes with Friday’s opener in mind it was the opportunity for many of the young Wildcats to impress ahead of the under 20’s reserve campaign also starting next weekend.
It proved a tough lesson to learn in the last thirty minutes as Batley roared back.
Firstly, Bretherton charged onto a ball ten metres out from the line and there was no stopping him from getting over the whitewash.
With the bit between their teeth and the Batley crowd sensing another Super League scalp, the Bulldogs went in again as Jason Walton chased down a grubber kick to the right corner to score. Former Wildcat Gareth Moore added the extras and the home side had a lead to hold onto.
John Kear’s men defended it well, pinning the Wildcats inside their own half with a Walshaw break the only real moment of threat from the men in blue as Batley held out for another victory over top flight opposition.
Referee: Mr T. Roby
Bulldogs: Palfrey, Potts, Walton, Maun, Mills,Black, Henderson, Applegarth, Mennell, Frodsham, Bretherton, Scott, Lindsay. Replacements: Campbell, Darren Williams, Daley Williams, Moore, Smith, Toohey, Potter, Walker, Lyhte.
Wildcats: Motu Tony, Dale Morton, Danny Cowling, Lucas Walshaw, Sam Fletcher, Matty Wildie, Kyle Wood, Oliver Wilkes, Andy Ellis, Kyle Amor, Frankie Mariano, Adam Slater, Kyle Trout. Replacements: James Davey, Liam Kay, Russ Spiers, Tom Lillycrop, Andy Raleigh, Danny Ansell, Adam Gledhill.
This is Wakefield. Together We Are Stronger.