Halifax RLFC 6 – 20 Toronto Wolfpack
A spirited Halifax RLFC performance wasn’t enough to stop a strong Toronto Wolfpack side, as the visitors ran out 6-20 winners in the first-ever meeting between the two teams at the MBi Shay Stadium.
Chester Butler scored on his return to the Halifax team, replacing the injured Shane Grady, but tries from Greg Worthington, Nick Rawsthorne and a late brace from Adam Higson secured two points for the Canadian outfit.
Halifax nearly got off to a dream start just two minutes in, James Clare jumping highest to claim a Scott Murrell kick, but he was adjudged to have made a double movement in his efforts to cross the line.
Any potential celebrations were quickly stopped, but the game continued at a frantic pace, with both sides looking to gain a foothold.
Toronto would eventually open the scoring, though, off the back of a big defensive effort to push Clare into touch from a high ball 15m out from the Fax try line.
From the resulting scrum, the Wolfpack shifted the ball to the short side, Greg Worthington spotting a gap in the Fax defence and crashing over on the right side.
Ryan Brierley missed the following conversion from a tight angle, the score 0-4 with half-an-hour on the clock.
Halifax responded well, though, and again had a try chalked off, Ed Barber pushed into touch this time.
But, three minutes later and just before half-time, Fax finally found some joy.
James Woodburn-Hall, playing at half-back for the second successive week, found some time and space and threaded a wonderful delayed kick from 15m out through the Wolfpack defence.
Chester Butler could hardly believe his luck, as he ran on to the loose ball and muscled his way over the whitewash to level the scores at 4-4.
Steve Tyrer converted on the hooter, to the delight of the home crowd, and Halifax went in at half-time in the ascendancy, 6-4 after a brutal first forty minutes.
Toronto, however, started the better of the two sides after the break, and enjoyed a lot of the ball throughout the second period.
Seemingly, with nothing on in their defensive third, the Wolfpack switched the ball quickly across the line and spotted a gap in the Fax defence.
With acres of space to run into for Richard Whiting, Toronto broke with pace, former-Fax man Nick Rawsthorne the eventual beneficiary of a simple offload to register the visitors’ second try of the afternoon.
Brierley made no mistake with the conversion this time to make the score 6-10 after 45 minutes.
Shortly after, there was a potentially game-changing moment, as Josh McCrone was given a yellow card after a poor flip tackle on James Saltonstall, with the help of Richard Whiting, although red could've been shown on another day.
Unfortunately, though, Halifax were unable to make their numerical advantage count, as Toronto took control of the game.
The away side sensibly slowed play down, opting to kick for touch at every opportunity, to eat up some minutes on the clock.
After McCrone had returned, Brierley slotted a goal home from straight in front of the sticks after Fax had given away a silly penalty, the score now 6-12.
With the game slipping away from the blue and whites, Toronto turned on the style and registered two late tries.
Both were scored by Adam Higson, the first a fantastic acrobatic finish in the corner, before a second in the last moments with the game all but over.
Brierley missed both conversions, the latter as the hooter sounded, to leave the final score Halifax RLFC 6 – 20 Toronto Wolfpack.
It was a brilliant effort from a determined Fax side who unfortunately just fell short, the score-line perhaps flattering their opponents.
They were led superbly, as always, by Scott Murrell, who made his 150th Fax appearance.
Next week Fax travel to Rochdale Hornets, Sunday 25th February, 15:00 KO.
Halifax: Sharp, Saltonstall, Barber, Tyrer, Clare, Murrell, Woodburn-Hall, Maher, Moore, Murray, Grix, Butler, Fairbank
Interchange: E Morris, Kaye, Green, Douglas
Tries: Butler (40’)
Goals: Tyrer (1/1)
Toronto: Laulu-Togaga’e, Kay, Worthington, Rawsthorne, Higson, Brierley, McCrone, Sims, Beswick, Buchanan, Dixon, Whiting, Westerman
Interchange: Emmitt, Krasniqi, Sidlow, Ackers
Tries: Worthington (31’), Rawsthorne (46’), Higson (72’, 80’)
Goals: Brierley (2/5)
Referee: Jack Smith
Man of the Match: Will Sharp
By Daniel Senior