Halifax Panthers slipped to a disappointing 20-12 defeat to play off rivals Batley Bulldogs at the 2023 Summer Bash at the LNER Stadium at York.
The final score line was an even more bitter pill to swallow as Fax looked in control with a 12-4 halftime lead but the Bulldogs showed their recent grand final appearance grit and bite to come back and pull clear of the Panthers in the Betfred Championship table.
With the loss of Joe Keyes, Simon Grix was forced to juggle his side around with Tom Inman selected at halfback and Kyle Wood coming onto the bench as interchange hooker. The changes didn’t seem to affect the Panthers in the first half as Louis Jouffret raced through a gap in the Batley defence before finding Captain Brandon Moore to race over underneath the posts for an early 6-0 lead. Jouffret was again at the centre of things as his flat ball sent Matty Gee through the gap before he found James Woodburn-Hall to increase Fax’s lead to 12 with Jouffret slotting over both conversions.
Fax were in position to pull away but the Bulldogs, with plenty of ex Fax players in their side, came back into the game just before the break. Welsh Captain Elliot Kear squeezing over in the corner directly from a scrum near the Panthers line.
The second half belonged to the Bulldogs though, helped massively by uncharacteristic mistakes by Woodburn-Hall at the back, spilling kicks from the influential Josh Woods for first ex Fax hero Dane Manning and then Woods himself. James Meadows converted both before scoring the match winning try himself minutes from time to condemn the Panthers to their first Summer Bash defeat since 2017. Final Score Halifax Panthers 12-20 Batley Bulldogs
Woodburn-Hall, Walmsley, Tibbs, Maizen, McComb, Jouffret, Inman, Calcott, Moore, Murray, Kavanagh, Gee, Fairbank
Subs: Wood, Larroyer, Lannon, Tangata
Tries: Moore (2), Woodburn-Hall (20)
Goals: Keyes 2/2
McGowan, Morton, Hodson, Buchanan, Kear, White, Woods, Gledhill, Blake, Lillycrop, Manning, Walshaw, Reilly
Subs: Meadows, Flynn, Ward, Senior
Tries: Kear (30), Manning (44), Woods (52), Meadows (78)
Goals: White 0/1, Meadows 2/2