Halifax Panthers secured a memorable 18-43 win in front of the Premier Sports cameras, despite being down to 11 men for the last half an hour of the game as Greg Worthington and Titus Gwaze saw red.
Fax scored 7 tries with 7 different scorers plus Joe Keyes chipping in with 7 goals, a drop goal and numerous try assists to cap a Man of the Match performance. In truth though, this was a true team performance, typifying the character the Panthers have shown all season, proved by Fax outscoring Barrow in the period where it was 13 men against 11.
It was a strong start from the men in Black and Yellow and the early dominance was converted into points with Ben Tibbs scoring his 8th try in as many games and Ben Kavanagh crashing over from a Keyes pass to give Fax an early 0-12 lead. Barrow managed to get on the board completely against the run of play with ex Fax loanee Josh Wood poaching one from dummy half with Sammut converting.
The Panthers responded with a classic training ground move with the impressive James Woodburn-Hall strolling over from a perfect Keyes delayed pass.
It looked like it would be a well deserved 6-18 lead the Panthers would take to the sheds at half time but right on the hooter, Sammut exploited a mismatch in numbers to send Jarrad Stack over to give the half time score line of 12-18 a very flattering look towards the home side.
Fax started the second stanza as they did the first and it was skipper Brandon Moore who scooted over from dummy half to give the visitors some much needed breathing space with Keyes converting for 12-24.
Then came the biff! Greg Worthington took the ball to the line and was taken high by Hakim Miloudi, who grappled him to the ground and appeared to use his head to assert more dominance in the tackle which prompted Worthington to take the law into his own hands by landing punches on Miloudi’s face, which brought both sides in for a get-together.
Meanwhile, Miloudi slowly took himself away from the fracas and lied down on the turf where Titus Gwaze pulled him up off the ground. After a lengthy stoppage the result was red cards for Worthington and Gwaze, a yellow for Miloudi and a penalty for the Panthers which Keyes kicked from the touchline to give Fax a much needed 3 score lead of 12-26.
This would normally lead to a fightback from the home side but the character, togetherness and skill of this Halifax Panthers side came to the fore and they stormed home with a wet sail, outscoring the Raiders 3 tries to 1 with 11 men to seal a memorable victory.
Firstly, terrific soft hands from Woodburn-Hall put Jouffret over on the short side before 5 mins later Keyes put Kavanagh, covering for Worthington on the left flank, through a gap before releasing Lachlan Walmsley to dive over for his 15th try of the season to make it 12-36 with 18 minutes to go. Silence from the home crowd and the small but vocal travelling support as well as the players of the Panthers were sent into raptures.
Barrow managed to give themselves a slight chance of a comeback with 15 minutes to go, Sammut scoring off the back of a wicked bounce of a ball over the retreating Walmsley and Kavanagh but it turned out to be a mere consolation.
The Panthers looked much the better side even with 11 men and their effort was rewarded with Joe Keyes, scheming the defensive line going left then right across the pitch, putting Matty Gee through a gaping hole to waltz over for his first try in Fax colours. Keyes converted and then rubbed salt in the Raiders wounds with a drop goal to make the final score Barrow Raiders 18-43 Halifax Panthers and a vital, memorable win on the Cumbrian coast.
Cresswell, Ritson, Miloudi, Costello, S.Toal, Carter, Sammut, Forster, Wood, Gillam, Hopkins, Stack, Iaria
Subs: Mossop, D.Toal, Brooks, Cozza
Tries: Wood (26), Stack (39), Sammut (66)
Goals: Sammut 3/3
Sin Bin: Miloudi
Woodburn-Hall, Walmsley, Worthington, Tibbs, Saltonstall, Jouffret, Keyes, Calcott, Moore, Murray, Kavanagh, Gee, Tangata
Subs: Wood, Fairbank, Gwaze, Larroyer
Tries: Tibbs (6), Kavanagh (16), Woodburn-Hall (34), Moore (45), Jouffret (56), Walmsley (62), Gee (70)
Goals: Keyes 6/7
Penalty: Keyes 1/1
Drop Goal: Keyes
Sent Off: Worthington, Gwaze
#PanthersAreInTown #ChooseFax #MoreThanAGame