Halifax Panthers made it a league double over their local rivals at the 2022 Summer Bash at Headingley with a 22-6 victory, Zack McComb grabbing a brace of tries to claim local bragging rights.
Once again Fax had to get the victory with a numerical disadvantage after Joe Martin saw red for what referee Mike Smaill categorised as ‘running in’ but with the score already at 16-0, the damage had already been done in a dominant first 40 from Simon Grix’s men.
It took just over 5 minutes for the Panthers to strike first, a strong run and quick play the ball from Dan Murray allowing Louis Jouffret to attack the Bulls line and find Ben Tibbs on the short ball to crash over for his 11th try in 12 games.
Man of the Match Joe Keyes missed the conversion but had a big hand in the Panthers next score 10 minutes later. It was his pressure on Bulls fullback Joe Burton from Jouffret’s bomb that forced the error and from the resulting set, the Irish international put Jacob Fairbank through on a great crash ball to force his way over for a try, Keyes converting for a well deserved 10-0 lead.
Things then evened up as Bradford came into the Derby game, never really threatening the Fax try line but forcing errors from the Panthers in possession. It was a Bulls error right in the hooter though that proved decisive in the contest. Great work through the middle from Ed Barber who offloaded to Kyle Wood with 3 Bulls men in attendance, Wood spun it left to Keyes who made the break, kicked it through and it was another spillage from Burton that laid a try on a plate for Zack McComb to the delight of Fax players and fans alike. Keyes converted on the hooter to make it 16-0 at the break.
The second half started quite scrappy as the rain and humidity made for greasy conditions and plenty of errors. Fax in no danger of conceding but poor execution with ball in hand meant they couldn’t increase their lead. It wouldn’t be a Derby game without a red card and so it came on the hour mark. A high tackle from Fairbank prompting a fracas and plenty of Bradford men running into get involved. Plenty of talking points but in the end it was substitute Joe Martin that was given his marching orders, on TV replays there could and probably should have been more cards on both sides.
Just like Good Friday though, the Panthers managed to dominate with 12 men and it was that man McComb who scored the try that killed any chance of a potential Bulls fightback, chasing his own kick through to ground the ball in front of the large travelling blue and white army causing amazing scenes behind the posts. Keyes added the extras to make it 22-0 and game over.
Kieran Gill managed to grab a consolation score for the Bulls from a dummy half scoot 17 minutes from time but the day belonged to the Panthers. The Fax fans in tremendous voice throughout, singing the boys home to a victory that keeps Fax well in the race for 3rd place and bragging rights over their local rivals. Halifax Panthers 22-6 Bradford Bulls.
Burton, Dawson-Jones, Evans, Gill, Millar, Kear, Patton, Evans, Doyle, Crossley, Butler, England, Hallas
Subs: Flanagan, Gannon, Murphy, Walker
Try: Gill (63)
Goal: Patton 1/1
Sin Bin: Flanagan (59)
Woodburn-Hall, McComb, Worthington, Tibbs, Saltonstall, Jouffret, Keyes, Calcott, Moore, Murray, Kavanagh, Garside, Fairbank
Subs: Wood, Morris, Martin, Barber
Tries: Tibbs (7), Fairbank (16), McComb (39, 59)
Goals: Keyes 3/4
Sent Off: Martin (55)
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