Batley and Halifax have progressed through to the Betfred Championship play-off semi-finals with gripping wins over Bradford and Whitehaven respectively.
The Bulldogs’ reward for a 23-10 win over the Bulls is a trip to table-topping Toulouse, while Halifax face a derby with Featherstone following their 24-20 win over the Cumbrians.
Both semis will be held next Saturday and shown live on Sky Sports.
Half-back Tom Gilmore, who is short-listed for the Championship’s player-of-the-year award, produced a man-of-the-match performance for Batley with a try, five goals and a drop goal for a 15-point haul.
However, the match-clinching try came from Bulldogs substitute Elliot Hall, who is employed by Bradford in the club’s media and marketing department and is thought to be wanted by the Bulls as a player for 2022.
BRING ON THE ROVERS ringing out around The Shay.
HALIFAX PANTHERS ARE IN THE PLAY OFF SEMI FINALS!!!!! We'll travel to @FevRoversRLFC next Saturday 5:30pm kick off. You can buy your tickets here: https://t.co/zSx9Ey9dbC#PlayoffPanthers #RoversVsPanthers #PanthersAreInTown pic.twitter.com/c5CQ6ZSM9v
— Halifax Panthers 🐾 (@HalifaxPanthers) September 25, 2021
Playing down the slope, Batley established a 16-0 interval lead thanks to Gilmore’s try and one from hooker Ben Kay.
Bradford, who lost their last three matches of the regular season, began their fightback when winger Joe Brown finished off a break by centre Rhys Evans and former Batley hooker George Flanagan had a try disallowed by referee James Child.
They got the score back to 16-10 on 64 minutes when Jordan Lilley got on the end of a kick by his half-back partner Danny Brough, who added the conversion.
Bulls captain Steve Crossley was then held up over the line as John Kear’s men strove for an equaliser and their hopes were eventually dashed by Hall.
Whitehaven, back in the play-offs for the first time since 2009, trailed 22-6 at the break but winger Andrew Bulman scored two second-half tries in a rousing fightback that had the crowd on the edge of their seats.
Second rower Matt Garside scored two first-half tries for the home side while Conor McGrath and James Woodburn-Hall also touched down and Ryan King and Liam Cooper got Whitehaven’s other tries.
Defeat brought to an end Gary Charlton’s tenure as Whitehaven coach as he hands over the reins to his assistant Jonty Gorley and prepares to take up a new role as director of rugby.