A four try haul from Lachlan Walmsley quelled a brave Newcastle Thunder side in a comprehensive 42-10 victory at the Shay in Round 24 of the Betfred Championship.
Fax ran in 8 tries in all but it was the Flying Scotsman Walmsley who grabbed half of them, most of the end of sweeping team moves showing the Panthers are hitting their straps at the right time of the season.
It had been a torrid week for the Thunder leading up to the game, announcements that the club was going part time in 2023 then brought forward to the immediate present caused all sorts of issues for the North East side. But a show of solidarity in a huddle with both sets of players at the end of the game showed that the Rugby League family are with them.
On the pitch though the Thunder showed their spirit, belying the fact they had been heavily beaten in their last 2 games without crossing the whitewash. They lasted until the quarter hour mark before Walmsley grabbed his first, finishing off a great move including Cory Aston who kept his place at half-back with the returning Louis Jouffret occupying the fullback slot in the absence of James Woodburn-Hall. Jouffret broke through from Aston’s short ball before handing onto the in-form Joe Arundel who’s quick hands gave Walmsley the opportunity to finish in the corner.
However the Thunder struck back almost immediately, Jouffret looking to setup another score threw a long pass looking for James Saltonstall but instead was intercepted by Alex Donaghy who raced 95m away to score under the posts. Josh Wood’s conversion gave the Thunder the lead but this would be the last time they would have it.
It took less than 5 minutes to come and when it did it was a moment to forget for Thunder winger Gideon Boafo who let a Joe Keyes bomb bounce right into the arms of Joe Arundel who carried on his try scoring run. Keyes was successful from the tee this time after hitting the woodwork on his previous attempt and he would be successful straight away after the Panthers went back to back, Walmsley getting his 2nd after Aston and Keyes linked up to find Jouffret out the back and the French International found his good mate on the wing to finish.
One of the biggest cheers of the afternoon came soon after as Brad Knowles finally made his return from a horror injury sustained in the very first game of the season and this seemed to inspire Fax to score once more! Once again Keyes, Aston and Jouffret combined to send Zack McComb in just before the break, Keyes converting for a 22-6 halftime lead.
The Panthers struck first in the 2nd half to settle the game, Aston’s bomb causing chaos and the half back collected the spilled ball to score, Keyes converting from wide out to continue his great form with the boot. The Thunder managed to plunder a try from dummy half through Josh Eaves but the rest of the game belonged to the Panthers.
Walmsley completed his hattrick just after the hour mark, collecting a Joe Keyes bomb ahead of Umaya Hanley to score a well taken try. Jouffret scored a lovely set play move from a scrum close to the line before Walmsley grabbed his 4th just before the final hooter, finishing off in the corner after soft, slick hands from Jouffret and Arundel giving the Scottish international space to finish in the corner to make the final score Halifax Panthers 42-10 Newcastle Thunder.
Jouffret, Walmsley, Arundel, McComb, Saltonstall, Aston, Keyes, Calcott, Moore, Fairbank, Barber, Garside, Tangata
Subs: Martin, Morris, Larroyer, Knowles
Tries: Walmsley (14, 30, 63, 78), Arundel, (27), McComb (34), Aston (47), Jouffret (67)
Goals: Keyes 5/8
Hanley, Boafo, Bailey, Noakes, Donaghy, Eaves, Woods, E.Chapelhow, Lacans, J.Chapelhow, Gallagher, Clemitt, Wilde
Subs: McDermott, Peachey, Clark, Taai
Tries: Donaghy (21), Lacans (53)
Goals: Woods 1/2
#PanthersAreInTown #ChooseFax #MoreThanAGame