Everyone except the Batley squad and coaches and perhaps the most diehard/deluded of supporters expected that Sunday’s game at the Millennium Stadium against Featherstone Rovers would be a game too far for the plucky part-timers from deep in heavy woollen country.
Their incredible win, leading from the first points of the game until the relieving final hooter, set up a trip to the Leigh Sports Village, to take on Leigh Centurions, in the Million Pound Game for the right to play their 2023 rugby in the Super League.
But the Bulldogs have no chance of winning, absolutely zero, not a prayer, a snow ball´s chance in hell. We take a look at the probablility Leigh will be the ones celebrating on Sunday evening.
There are several measures we can look at to give us an idea of the likely outcome on Sunday.
The sides have met twice in the regular season and it didn´t pan out too well for the West Yorkshire side. In May they lost 52-0 when they took on Leigh at Mount Pleasant, in the return fixture a fortnight ago, the last regular round game, they at least managed a score in going down by 64-6. An average across the two games would hint at a massive win for the home side by a score line of 58-3. On this season´s head-to-heads, Batley will be lucky to get over the whitewash once.
Leigh have had an extraordinary season and during the regular rounds, losing just once while averaging just over 48 points a game, and while conceding an average of just under eight. Batley on the other hand won 18 of their games scoring an average of 27 points per game while conceding 20. Comparing the two attacks would suggest that Leigh will win by 48-27, while a direct comparison between defences would again see Batley lose by 20-8.
´You´ll never meet a poor bookie´ as the saying goes. The bookmaker is rarely wrong, and on this occasion the competitions sponsor Betfred are giving the Batley Bulldogs a thirty-six point start on the handicap coupon and have set their odds of winning the game at 10/1, Leigh being massive favourites at 1/40. If we were betting men, then we´d have our 50p on Leigh with the handicap at 5/6.
So it looks like mission impossible for Batley Bulldogs and even if they could field Ethan Hunt in the half backs it is very difficult to find anyone who thinks that they can do it. There is no romance in the game. Our analysis above leads us to expect/predict a score line clearly to the advantage of the Leigh Centurions and if you were to twist our arm on a precise result then we´d go for 48-6.
But this is sport, and in sport the unthinkable can happen, albeit in a very small number of cases. Brian McDermott´s resignation as Featherstone coach has showed the price of failure, and Adrian Lam will be guarding against a similar fate as he plans meticulously to ensure that his side don´t fall at the last hurdle and gift an impossible victory to the biggest underdogs of all time, the Bulldogs.
We just hope that Batley will give Leigh a game and it won´t all be over inside the first twenty minutes.