Andy Ackers, Andrew Dixon,
Gareth O'Brien 3,
By Stephen Ibbetson
Halifax RLFC performed exceptionally to push Toronto Wolfpack all the way in a 14-0 defeat in the first round of the Qualifiers at the MBi Shay Stadium.
The runaway Championship winners were heavy favourites but only managed tries at the end of each half, while Fax had strong spells in the game but couldn’t convert them.
Toronto were almost ahead early on when A misplaced pass bounced kindly for Gareth O’Brien to break through the line, and he found Matty Russell on the right wing who looked certain to score. shane Grady didn’t give up though, making a challenge on the winger and forcing a knock on before the ball was grounded.
The visitors bombed another big opportunity when Chase Stanley was found in space on that same wing and ran in, but the pass from O’Brien was forward.
Halifax had really good spells in the first half, and got back-to-back penalties inside Toronto’s 30m but couldn’t take advantage.
Their defence continued to hold strong though, holding Adam Sidlow up when he drove over the line as they withstood heavy pressure.
It was only in the 36th minute when the first points of the game were finally scored, and they came for the visitors. A penalty brought them to within 10m of the Halifax line, and Andy Ackers went over from close range for a try converted by O’Brien.
Fax had a great opportunity to reply at the start of the second half after Scott Murrell kicked a fantastic 40/20, but they were judged to be offside chasing the loose ball after Brandon Moore had make a great run on the first play.
They kept on top though, earning a repeat set as Ben Johnston’s kick was knocked behind, but they couldn’t find a way through. They were gifted another set when Toronto then knocked on just 20m from their line, but despite attempts from Ben Heaton and Grady to charge over they were again denied.
Toronto edged ahead on the hour mark with an O’Brien goal, after Grady was penalised for a high shot 30m out.
They could have made the game safe when Blake Wallace made a great break from inside his own half, but a fantastic challenge by Kieren Moss brought him down.
Fax had more chances close to the Wolfpack line but the well-organised defence continued to hold firm, before the win was sealed for good when Andrew Dixon crashed over on the right side with three minutes to go. O’Brien was successful again with the conversion to give Toronto a 14-0 victory.
Halifax RLFC: Moss; Saltonstall, Tyrer, Heaton, Sharp; Murrell, Johnston; Maher, Kaye, Fairbank; Grady, Butler, Barber.
Interchanges: Morris, Moore, Baldwinson, Wood.
Toronto Wolfpack: O’Brien; Russell, Stanley, Wheeler, Kay; McCrone, Wallace; Sims, Beswick, Lussick; Dixon, Paterson, Emmitt.
Interchanges: Buchanan, Bussey, Ackers, Sidlow.
Tries: Ackers (36’), Dixon (77’)
Goals: O’Brien (3/3)
Man of the Match: Sam Wood
Hit Man: James Saltonstall