By Stephen Ibbetson
Halifax RLFC maintained their place in the top four of the Betfred Championship with a 48-22 victory at Barrow Raiders.
Fax led 30-10 at half-time, with tries from Jacob Fairbank, Ben Johnston, Scott Murrell, Shane Grady and Chester Butler.
The lead was narrowed to eight points before Kieren Moss, Adam Tangata and a second from Johnston sealed the win.
It took under two minutes for Halifax to get on their way, although it was an unfamiliar name on the scoresheet as Jacob Fairbank got his first try of the season by running onto Johnston’s grubber, with Steve Tyrer getting the first of his eight goals.
The lead couldn’t have been much shorter-lived though. Fax allowed the kick-off from the restart to bounce, and they all lost track of the ball as Dan Toal was eventually the man to claim it and ran in to score.
Both sides settled into the game after a hectic start, and it was a moment of magic that earned the points when Johnston weaved his way past two Barrow defenders for a superb solo try.
From there Halifax never relinquished the lead, and it was looking pretty healthy after two more tries within seven minutes.
Scott Murrell picked up his sixth try in six games, with one of the easier scores he’ll have after Ben Kaye’s grubber rebounded back to him to slot the stand-off over.
Fax kept the pressure up and after both James Woodburn-Hall and Murrell were held up just short, the ball was moved left and Johnston played in Grady.
Back-to-back penalties allowed the Raiders a foot back in the game though, and Fax were punished as Jamie Dallimore the ball over the defence for Shane Toal to score in the corner.
Halifax had the last say in the first half though, as another great carry from Johnston and an offload from Murrell allowed Chester Butler to continue his impressive form with a try.
Dan Toal was sent to the bin for Barrow just before half-time, but half of those ten minutes at the start of the second half were spent with even numbers on the field after Dan Fleming went in the same direction following a high shot on Dallimore.
Barrow went over almost immediately after Fleming’s departure, with Ryan Johnston diving from close range and just about getting to the line.
They then narrowed the gap to eight points with just over 20 minutes left to play, as a quick move right was finished by Shane Toal in the corner for his second of the match, while Dallimore scored the last of his three goals.
From there Halifax only extended the lead though, with the decisive try coming from Moss who showed great pace to speed through the defence following a break and make it to the corner.
Tyrer didn’t convert that try but he did put over a penalty 20m out just a few of minutes later, to give Fax a three score lead.
The win was then wrapped up with two further tries late on. Adam Tangata got himself on the scoresheet for the first time this season with a great carry to make it over from halfway, supporting the initial break from Johnston after intercepting a pass close to the Halifax line.
Johnston then capped an outstanding individual performance by scoring his second try, putting in a short grubber to chase himself and touch down with a couple of minutes remaining.
Barrow Raiders: Burroughs; S Toal, Stack, Loxham, Pownall; Dallimore, Johnston; Bullock, Mossop, Susino; Smith, Morrow, D Toal.
Interchanges: Duffy, Parata, Riley, While.
Tries: D Toal (4’), S Toal (31’, 57’), Johnston (44’)
Goals: Dallimore (3/4)
Halifax RLFC: Moss; Saltonstall, Tyrer, Woodburn-Hall, Sharp; Murrell, Johnston; Tangata, Kaye, Fairbank; Butler, Grady, Grix.
Interchanges: Maher, Moore, Fleming, Barber.
Tries: Fairbank (2’), Johnston (20’, 78’), Murrell (24’), Grady (27’), Butler (38’), Moss (63’), Tangata (72’)
Goals: Tyrer (8/9)
Man of the Match: Ben Johnston