By Jacob Kilbride | Photo by Mike Riley
Halifax RLFC caused a huge upset in the Coral Challenge Cup after they defeated Betfred Super League side London Broncos 24-16 at the MBi Shay Stadium.
Tries from Ed Barber and Ben Kaye was backed up by second-scores from Reece Chapman-Smith and Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e as Halifax secured a well-deserved spot in the sixth round of the competition, when the rest of the Super League clubs join the competition.
There was a lack of quality near the try line from both sides in the opening dozen minutes, particularly from the Broncos.
Morgan Smith’s threw a pass into the sideline that was aimed for Jacob Ogden while moments later on the opposite flank Ben Hellewell bombed a Jay Pitts pass with London in a two vs one.
After failing to make anything from the straight sets deep in Halifax territory, London were made to pay for their lack of potency, with Ed Barber catching and grounding a high kick from James Woodburn-Hall.
The evening’s captain Steve Tyrer added the conversion from in front of the sticks.
London replied ten minutes later when after more sets deep in the Halifax half, Mark Ioane latched onto a short pass to dive over. Smith added the conversion to level matters.
With two minutes of the half left, Halifax regained the lead. The unstoppable Ed Barber produced one of countless offload in the half, with Halifax showing quick hands to send Ben Kaye through a gap near the line. Tyrer’s conversion reaffirmed the six-point advantage.
After the restart, the Broncos quickly fought back with Ogden diving over from Smith’s cut-out pass. Smith added the goal from the touchline for a 12-12 score-line.
Halifax’s spirit wasn’t in question though. A slick passing sequence to the right flank found Reece Chapman-Smith who, despite making his first appearance on the wing in a Fax shirt, showed all the attributes of a seasoned wideman with an acrobatic finish, his first score for the club.
A touchline kick from Tyrer restored the six-point lead.
With 17 minutes remaining, Halifax doubled their lead. Some lovely footwork from James Saltonstall left the centre with one defender to beat and he found the supporting Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e who dived in his third try in two matches. Tyrer tagged on the goal.
Just 11 minutes remained when Halifax opened up another great chance. James Woodburn-Hall feigned a drop goal effort before switching play to the right flank, though this time Chapman-Smith was unable to take Barber’s pass.
London cut the Fax lead a couple of minutes later, as Ogden dotted down in the same position he’d scored previously.
For the first time, Smith missed the resultant kick, dragging it across the face of the posts, leaving Fax with an eight-point advantage.
Moments later and Fax were hanging on by the skin of their teeth, when Ogden again found room in the right corner though this time an unbelievable last-ditch tackle by Shaun Robinson managed to prevent his opposite winger from touching down.
Halifax produced some more epic defending until the final hooter, closing out an epic Cup victory.
Halifax: QLT, Chapman-Smith, Tyrer, Saltonstall, Robinson; Woodburn-Hall, White; Kavanagh, Kaye, Fleming; Larroyer, Barber, Calcott
Subs: Kidd, E Morris, Curtis Davies, Cooper
Tries: Barber (15’), Kaye (38’), Chapman-Smith (54’), QLT (64’)
Goals: Tyrer (4/4)
London: Fleming, Ogden, Morgan, Kear, Hellewell; Smith, Meadows; Richards, Pelissier, Mason; Pitts, Gee, Lovell
Subs: Abdul, Cunningham, Battye, Ioane
Tries: Ioane (25’), Ogden (48’, 71’)
Goals: Smith (2/3)