By Alex Robinson
Halifax RLFC produced a strong second-half fightback but came up short in a 38-24 defeat to Hull Kingston Rovers at the KCOM Craven Park.
Hull KR established 24-0 lead at the interval after a strong showing in the first period, with Craig Hall bagging four tries, but a couple of James Saltonstall tries as well as efforts from Will Sharp and Dan Fleming cut the deficit and leave with their heads held high.
Two tries in as many minutes from Hall put KR 8-0 up after just ten minutes of action. Adam Quinlan was twice the assister and his cut out ball sent Hall over the right and the Australian then made a great break after showing a dummy before feeding the winger for a second unopposed.
Hall twice missed the conversion though.
Quinlan continued to cause problems from full-back and this time assited with a kick as he grubbered one through for James Greenwood to touch down. This time, Hall converted.
Just two minutes later, and with another sizeable overlap, Quinlan again sent a looping pass to Hall, and the winger crossed the whitewash to seal a first half hat-trick. Danny Tickle took over kicking duties and sent his attempt through the sticks to establish a 20-0 lead.
In a replica play, Hall had his fourth try of the afternoon, as he finished a Quinlan pass in the corner. 24-0 was the half-time lead after Tickle missed the touchline conversion.
From the restart, Halifax looked like a different side hit back after just four minutes.
Fax switched play from right to left as Ben Johnston found Ben Heaton with good space on the left. His pass found Saltonstall who evaded several KR defenders to brilliantly score in the corner. Shane Grady excellently converted from the touchline.
Three successive penalties for the home side lead to a penalty in front of the posts from 10 meters out. Hall opted to take the two points to put his side further ahead.
With the momentum swaying into Fax’s favour, Halifax scored arguably scored the try of the game, racing from one end of the field to the other.
Sharp acrobatically caught the ball from a Danny McGuire kick and set off on an oustounding break past four defenders. Chester Butler then fed Saltonstall for the winger's second of the game. Dan Fleming converted remarkably from the touchline, with Grady off the field.
A moment of brilliance from former Dally M winner Todd Carney swung the game back in KR's favour, to all but secure the win. The Australian's stunning 40/20 put Rovers in position and from it, Atkin pounced upon a McGuire kick which Jacob Fairbank spilled in goal.
The Rovers then scored again moments later, as Shaun Lunt scurried over from close distance. Hall twice added the extras.
Halifax's heads weren't down though and they scored a couple of times late on to give some respectability to the scoreline.
A quick penalty tap from Saltonstall caught the Rovers defence napping and gave the position for Fleming to barge over from five metres out. The prop then converted his own score with a simple kick.
With two minutes remaining, a signature jinky from Johnston saw him break upfield and with support on his left and on his right, Sharp was in support to score the final try. Fleming converted third attempt from as many efforts.
Hull KR: Quinlan, Hall, Salter, Blair, J Carney; McGuire, Atkin; Masoe, Lunt, Tickle; Greenwood, Tomkins, Clarkson, T Carney
Interchanges: Vaivai, Kavanagh, Jewitt, T Carney
Hull KR Tries: Hall (7', 10', 18', 26'), Greenwood (15'), Atkin (67'), Lunt (71')
Hull KR Goals: Hall (4/6) Tickle (1/2)
Halifax RLFC: Woodburn-Hall, Saltonstall, Heaton, Butler, Sharp; Murrell, Johnston; Fleming, Kaye, Jones; Tangata, Grady, Fairbank
Halifax RLFC Tries: Saltonstall (44', 62'), Fleming (75'), Sharp (77')
Halifax Goals: Grady (1/1), Fleming (3/3)
Interchanges: Moore, Cooper, Maher, Connor Davies
Referee: Marcus Griffiths