By Jacob Kilbride
Halifax RLFC ended their 2018 season with an agonisingly close 23-16 defeat away to London Broncos in the final round of the Betfred Super 8s Qualifiers at the Ealing Trailfinders Stadium.
Halifax led 16-12 at half-time thanks to scores from Ben Kaye, Adam Tangata and Steve Tyrer but they sailed to find the same form in the second period as London prevailed, with Kieran Dixon and Elliot Kear producing decisive tries.
Defeat leaves Fax winless at the end of the Qualifiers campaign for the second successive season, although once again they can take plenty of positives from another competitive display against financially superior opposition.
Halifax made a dream start with two tries in the space of a couple minutes. Former London star Ben Kaye was the first to go over with a signature dart over from dummy half after spotting a slight gap.
Minutes later, Halifax had another try. The trademark combination, as shown last week against Leeds, saw Scott Murrell kick the ball wide for Steve Tyrer who claimed the ball in the air and grounded.
Tyrer converted both efforts for a 12-0 lead.
London responded strongly though and responded with two quick tries of their own to put them level at the midpoint of the half.
Jarrod Sammut spotted a gap straight out of the scrum to dive over and Daniel Hindmarsh-Takyi added to that effort with a drive to the right of the posts.
Halifax showed their mental strength though, reacting through an excellent charge in the right corner from Adam Tangata.
Tyrer pulled wide the kick to leave Fax four points in front.
Halifax had the best of few chances thereafter before the break, most notably with Curtis Davies - making his first league appearance for Halifax - knocking on a metre short under the posts, but couldn’t make the most of it.
London were the quickest of the blocks in the second period but Fax were equal to the London barrage. Tom Spencer was held up in goal before Kieran Dixon knocked on Sammut’s grubber to the corner.
A couple of minutes later, Halifax had a gift of a chance as a Murrell 40/20 put them on the front foot. A dropped ball from Tyrer on the second tackle saw the attack wasted though.
Fax were dealt a couple of injury blow when James Woodburn-Hall suffered a nasty-looking knee injury which saw him miss the final 30 minutes whilst Liam Cooper went off for a head test.
By the midpoint in the half, Sammut produced another moment of class with a high kick to the corner. Hellewell flicked the ball back inside and Dixon dived over in the corner to level the scores.
Sammut’s kicked nudged the Broncos two points ahead.
Halifax were struggling to cope with the rapid London line speed by now and Elliot Kear crucially added to the lead when the planted the ball down in the left corner.
The conversion went wide and Fax trailed by just six.
Halifax played the final stages with just 15 players as Brandon Moore joined Woodburn-Hall in the dugout after being sin-binned for dissent.
Seconds before the hooter, Sammut added a drop goal to seal the win.
London Broncos: Walker, Dixon, Hellewell, Kear, Williams; Pitts, Sammut; Evans, Pelissier, Ioane; Hindmarsh-Takyi, Gee, Battye
Interchanges: Spencer, Lovell, Adebiyi, Davies
Tries: Sammut (20’), Hindmarsh-Takyi (23’), Dixon (62’), Kear (69’)
Goals: Sammut (3/4)
Drop Goals: Sammmut (80’)
Halifax RLFC: Woodburn-Hall, Sharp, Heaton, Tyrer, Moss; Murrell, Johnston; Fleming, Kaye, Jacob Fairbank; Tangata, Butler, Moore
Interchanges: Curtis Davies, Connor Davies, Cooper, Douglas
Tries: Kaye (11’), Tyrer (13’), Tangata (27’)
Goals: Tyrer (2/3)
Sin Binned: Moore (74')