Halifax RLFC vs Sheffield Eagles, Betfred Championship, Round 2 – February 11th 2018 (3pm kick-off)
Halifax RLFC secured their first victory of the 2018 Betfred Championship season after they defeated Sheffield Eagles 30-10 at a wet and Wintery MBi Shay Stadium.
Loanee Daniel Murray marked his return to the side with a try in each half, whilst James Woodburn-Hall, Ed Barber and Dan Fleming were also on the scoresheet.
Halifax couldn’t have wished for a better start to the game as Scott Murrell found touch from his kick-off and Fax proved clinical in their first attacking set.
Returning winger Saltonstall, making his first appearance of 2018, flicked the ball back inside from a Murrell high kick and Murray, who re-signed for the club this week, powered over for the try.
Steve Tyrer made no mistake with the conversion, knocking the ball straight through the sticks, for his first points of the season.
Five minutes later and Fax threatened again as Will Sharp showed great invention with a kick-and-chase from close range and almost grounded the ball only for his pick-up to be knocked on in-goal.
Halifax’s discipline was to be their undoing after a dozen minutes as a couple of penalties in the space of a minute allowed Sheffield the field position for Jack Ashworth to dive over from close range.
Former Bradford half-back Oscar Thomas converted easily from in front of the posts to level the scores.
Fax responded well though and a brilliant twist and turn ten metres out from James Woodburn-Hall saw him dive over for a wonderful effort.
Tyrer reaffirmed Halifax’s six-point lead with his second conversion of the afternoon.
Sheffield fought back well into the contest but Halifax showed their outstanding defence once more, a feature of their success in 2017, as they defended four goal-line drop-outs and six attacking Sheffield sets to remain in front.
The final ten minutes saw the players contend with some treacherous conditions with heavy hail and rain, but Fax maintained their 12-6 lead to the half-time break.
Halifax made a fantastic start to the second period with Murrell kicking a 40/20 in the opening minute of the half before another two sets followed due to penalties.
Fax took advantage of their opponents’ ill-discipline as Ed Barber barged over the line with three defenders around him to put distance between themselves and the Eagles.
Tyrer made it three conversions from three attempts to ensure a 12-points advantage.
Much of the second-half was a stop-and-stair affair with both sides making plenty of errors in the horribly wet conditions.
Mid-way through the half, both outfits were dealt blows as Shane Grady, making his first appearance since his knee injury, was forced off hurt whilst Nabil Djalout went off on a stretcher.
The Eagles were the quickest out of the blocks following the lengthy delay and with a quarter of the game remaining, a short ball by Castleford loanee Cory Aston found captain Matthew James to go over.
Aston was unable to convert through, leaving Sheffield trailing by eight.
Fax broke the Eagles’ momentum though as with just 9 minutes remaining, Daniel Murray, recently back on from the bench, powered over for his second try of the afternoon.
Tyrer continued his record with the boot, converting for a 14-point lead.
Fax were on top by now and sealed the victory through Dan Fleming’s first Halifax try as he grounded a Barber off-load under the sticks.
Tyrer scored his 555th Halifax goal, and his fifth of the afternoon, taking scores to 30-10.
That was how the score-line would remain come the final hooter as Fax secured their first win of 2018.
Halifax RLFC: Sharp, Clare, Tyrer, Barber, Saltonstall; Murrell (C), Woodburn-Hall; Fleming, Moore, Murray; Grix, Grady, Jacob Fairbank
Subs: E Morris, Douglas, Kaye, Maher
Tries: Murray (2’), Woodburn-Hall (18’)
Goals: Tyrer (2/2)
Sheffield Eagles: Millar, Lo, Spedding, Toole, Blackmore; Thomas, Aston; Lees, Fozard, Offerdahl; James (C), Ashworth, Moran
Subs: Burns, Magrin, Djalout, Pick
Tries: Ashworth (12’)
Goals: Thomas (1/1)
Referee: John McMullan
Man of The Match: James Woodburn-Hall
By Jacob Kilbride