Halifax Panthers slipped to an agonising 32-30 defeat away to playoff rivals Sheffield Eagles on Friday night. After being 0-18 ahead after 30 minutes and 12-24 after 50 minutes, the Eagles came from behind to claim the spoils, their week off seemingly proving vital as Fax, who had their most draining match of the season in the capital 6 days prior, ran out of steam when it really mattered.
At the start of the match, any talk of fatigue seemed misguided as the Panthers fired out of the blocks and raced into a thoroughly deserved 0-18 lead within the first 30 minutes.

James Woodburn-Hall raced through a gap in the Eagles defensive line before turning provider for Jacob Fairbank, who powered over from close range, and Louis Jouffret dummied his way over to give Fax a commanding lead going into half time with Jouffret’s flawless boot earning an 0-18 lead.

But the Eagles came flying back thanks to Matty Dawson-Jones’ brace of tries, the second after Lachlan Walmsley inexplicably threw a pass running out from a scrum 10m from his own line, which was intercepted by the Eagles leading to a score as the half time hooter sounded. 12-18 rather than 6-18 gave the Eagles the momentum going into the second half.

However, it was the Panthers who scored first after the break, Fairbank grabbing his second with Jouffret converting for a 12-24 lead. But that signalled pretty much the end of the Panthers scoring as the Eagles freshness and the cleverness of their ex Fax half back pairing of Cory Aston and Anthony Thackray came to the fore. 

The hosts struck right back the very next set as Jack Hansen charged down Jouffret’s last tackle kick to race away and score before the seemingly inevitable happened. Aston’s performance on this ground on 2022 in blue and white was instrumental in Fax’s victory that night and he came up with another match winning performance but this time back in his boyhood club’s Jersey.

First, he powered his way over to score to bring the deficit back to four points at 20-24, but then his defensive effort in stopping Ben Crooks scoring what may well have been the game winning try proved vital. This was a hammer blow to a tiring Fax side and the momentum shift the Eagles were craving as another piece of inevitability came in the shape of Brandon Douglas.

The powerful prop forward is widely reported to have re-signed for his hometown club and the team he spent 2017 on loan with but this didn’t stop him scoring under the posts for his current Eagles side to put them into the lead for the first time thanks to Aston’s conversion.

Aston was converting another score just a minute later as the Panthers efforts to reclaim the ball from a short kick off were dashed by Ben Jones-Bishop, who caught the ball and raced away to score and put the game beyond Fax at 32-24.

The Panthers weren’t done though as Ryan Lannon went over for his first try of the season as the final hooter sounded. Jouffret converted but it was a case of too little too late, so near and yet so far as Halifax’s playoff hopes were dealt a blow by the Eagles who ended victorious 32-30.

Sheffield Eagles
Laulu-Togagae, Jones-Bishop, Glover, Oakes, Dawson-Jones, Aston, Thackeray, Kirk, Hansen, Wood, Sene-Lefao, Bower, Hodgson
Subs: Gwaze, Douglas, Chrimes, Broadbent

Tries: Dawson-Jones (34,39), Hansen (49), Aston (61), Douglas (74), Jones-Bishop (77)
Goals: Aston 4/6
Sin Bin: Kirk (72)

Halifax Panthers
Pickersgill, Walmsley, Maizen, Crooks, McComb, Jouffret, Woodburn-Hall, Calcott, O’Brien, Murray, Kavanagh, Gee, Fairbank
Subs: Moore, Tangata, Lannon, Fleming

Tries: Woodburn-Hall (2), Fairbank (13,46), Jouffret (30), Lannon (79)
Goals: Jouffret 5/5
Sin Bin: Calcott (72)

#FAX150 #MatchReport

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