Action pictures can be purchased from photographer Mike McKenzie
Haven 24 (12-4) 14 Batley
But gradually, with the likes of David Fatialofa, Richard Fletcher and new signing Simon Baldwin running strongly Haven started to take control. They managed to get three consecutive sets, as first Marns and then Ash Lindsay were forced to knock tricky John Duffy kicks dead.
The pressure finally told when Carl Rudd stabbed a grubber kick through and David Seeds reacted quickest to open the scoring on 19 minute. Rudd converted the try.
Haven kept up the pressure and on 26 minutes doubled their lead. Baldwin made a half-break after a good pass from Rudd and turned in the tackle, releasing Carl Sice to score under the posts (19). Sice had replaced Greame Mattinson only a few seconds earlier, and the pass from Baldwin was the first time he touched the ball. Carl Rudd converted again. Determined not to concede a third try the Bulldogs threw everything they had into the next ten minutes.
Their cause was helped when Gary Broadbent was sin-binned for holding down right on the Haven line, but try as they might the visitors just could not force their way over during a long spell of pressure. Eventually the home side cleared their lines and it looked like the visitors' chance had gone. However they were awarded a dubious penalty on half way and took full advantage. Lee Paterson tapped it as the Haven players stood with their backs to him, and only a desperate tackle from Ricky Wright brought him to ground.
Wright was on hand to make another desperate tackle a few seconds later, but his defensive heroics were only delaying the inevitable and sure enough Luke Stenchion bulldozed his way over the line a few seconds later. Patterson missed with his conversion but the Bulldogs' tails were up going into half-time. The first 17 minutes of the second period passed without incident, as both sides became locked in an arm wrestle in the middle of the park.
Haven looked the stronger, but the usual attacking spark from Sice or Duffy was lacking.
As the game threatened to peter out Duffy finally injected some magic, selling a dummy and going on a mazy run through the Batley defenders, before touching down. As the home fans went wild, referee Mike Dawber pulled play back, seemingly for an obstruction when Duffy ran close to Baldwin.
That seemed to be the spark the game needed and suddenly the interest was ignited, with Batley grabbing another score of their own.
Richard Colley produced a great run, and slipped the ball out of a tackle to Jamie Stokes in support, he dived for the line, and Francis Maloney's conversion brought the visitors back to within a score at 12-10 on the hour.
Haven were reeling and when star centre David Seeds was flattened in a tackle it looked like the game might swing the way of the visitors. Seeds was helped to his feet, and as a substitute got set to replace him Haven switched their attack from left to right.
Seeds ignored the physio's call to leave the field, and how pleased Haven were just a few seconds later. The ball was moved back to the left by John Duffy and Seeds, still looking rather groggy, sold Marns a dummy and ghosted over for his second score. Rudd converted to put some daylight back on the score board, but with 15 minutes still to play the Bulldogs were very much still in the contest.
That was until Seeds worked his magic again.
This time he was still in his own half when he took Duffy's pass, but he ran at the Batley defence and with Ash Lindsay and Mark Barlow terrified of the pace of Calvert on Seeds' outside they moved across, anticipating the pass.
Seeds used all his experience, shaping to shift the ball and then running into the gaping chasm created when the two defenders rushed towards Calvert.
Three or four years ago Seeds would have gone on to out-stip the full back and claim a hat-trick, but with old father time catching up with him he was delighted to see Spencer Miller on his inside as Jamie Stokes closed him down. Seeds released the ball at just the right time and Miller went over under the sticks. Rudds fourth conversion made the margin 14, and Gary Thornton might have been forgiven for thinking the world was against him. He barked some instructions from the sidelines as he tried to rally his troops for one last effort, and it payed dividends.
Maloney's short kick off was recovered and they went on one last attack, which ended when Marns stepped inside Rob Jackson and grabbed what might prove a vital try in the Bulldogs battle to beat the drop. Maloney's conversion struck the bar but at 24-14 it was of little consequence.
David Seeds second try pushed Haven eight points clear, and ended any hope of a shock Batley win.