Rugby League: Rams hand their neighbours a battering

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The Independent Online
LAST SEASON'S Northern Ford Premiership Grand Finalists, Dewsbury Rams, made a winning start to the new campaign with an 18-8 derby win at Batley.

The Rams led throughout thanks to an early try from Nathan Graham and four goals from Barry Eaton but they did not seal victory until the winger Alex Godfrey raced in from 30 metres late in the game. A converted try from Batley's Paul Gledhill 10 minutes from time had closed the gap to just four points and set up a grandstand finish.

Leigh Centurions kicked off the new season with a pulsating 24-16 victory over arch rivals Widnes at Hilton Park. The teams were locked on four tries apiece until Simon Baldwin, a close-season signing from Sheffield, made the break that sent Alan Cross racing under the posts for the winner. Leigh's Graeme Close kicked two vital goals in the difficult conditions while his opposite number, Simon Verbackis, missed four times.

The new-look Doncaster Dragons also made a superb start, winning 36-1 at York. With 12 new faces in their side, the Dragons gave an impressive display of attacking rugby to run in seven tries, the newcomers Craig Weston and Latham Tawhai each grabbing two apiece.

Elsewhere, the former Great Britain international Paul Loughlin made a try-scoring debut for Swinton in a 21-10 win at Workington Town. The Cumbrians had taken the lead with a penalty from Jamie Nixon and, after tries from winger Marlon Billy and Loughlin had given the visitors the lead, they drew level when their new Tongan prop Tau Liku finished off strongly from short range.

But Workington were caught out almost immediately when the centre Matt Bateman held off some rather poor tackling to score his side's third try and the crucial score came on 62 minutes when the winger Jason Roach kicked through and went past two home defenders before getting the touchdown.

The scrum-half Darren Holt inspired Barrow to a 31-4 victory at Whitehaven, where Jamie Smith marked his return to the club with the first of the Border Raiders' six tries.

n Wakefield staged a second-half fightback to earn a draw against their Super League rivals Castleford in a friendly watched by 6,335 at Wheldon Road. Trailing 14-4 at half-time, Wakefield dominated the second period and tied the scores five minutes from time with a try by the substitute Paul Handforth, which was converted by the debutant Steve McNamara.