Halifax Panthers made it a clean sweep of victories in 2022 over their near neighbours Bradford with a comprehensive 40-18 victory at a Sunny Shay Stadium.
A brace of tries each from in-form wingers James Saltonstall and Lachlan Walmsley were complimented by Dan Murray, Will Calcott and Man of the Match Joe Keyes who also chipped in with 6 goals to all but confirm a 3rd place finish in the Betfred Championship Table and a home tie in the first round of the playoffs.
Fax were lightning quick out of the blocks and raced into a 16-0 lead in as many minutes. Joe Keyes unlocking the Bulls defence after 5 minutes with a typical dummy and step through the Bulls defence with Will Calcott scoring on the very next set, capitalising on a poor attempt of a catch from Ryan Millar with Saltonstall and Cory Aston combining to send Calcott over. Keyes converting after hitting the post with his first attempt and was instrumental in setting up the next try alongside Louis Jouffret who’s move from a scrum sent Saltonstall over for his first of the game.
Cheap penalties and loose possession then brought the Bulls right back into the game and inevitably George Flanagan who was at the centre of it. Firstly his dummy half barge over try and then his grubber into the in goal area for Sammy Kibula to pounce put Bradford back in business at 16-12.
The Bulls then became their own worst enemies as Brad England was sent to the Sin Bin after an altercation with Ed Barber and dissent towards the referee. This proved expensive for the away side and ultimately decided the game as the Panthers scored twice in the time the Bulls were down to 12 either side of half time. Firstly Walmsley scored his first of the afternoon, put into space well by Keyes then Jouffret and then Saltonstall grabbed his 2nd of the match from yet another move off an attacking scrum. Keyes converted both to give Fax a 28-12 lead and you would think, game over.
The Bulls thought differently though and again rather inevitably it was ex Fax man Chester who powered over from close range following a string of soft Fax penalties. Kear converted but that was the end of the Bradford scoring as Joe Keyes started to turn the screw.
His kicking game proving effective and vital in taking the game away from the Bulls. Firstly his grubber was pounced upon by Walmsley grabbing his 23rd try in the League keeping up his duel with Barrow’s Tee Ritson at the top of the charts. Then Keyes’ boot won the territory battle as his measured kicks suffocated the life out of the Bradford players and it was Dan Murray who capitalised, going over from a neat Jacob Fairbank pass. Keyes converted both to cap yet another Man of the Match display and a comprehensive Derby day victory for the Panthers much to the delight of the raucous home fans. Halifax Panthers 40- 18 Bradford Bulls.
Jouffret, Walmsley, Worthington, Arundel, Saltonstall, Aston, Keyes, Calcott, Moore, Murray, Kavanagh, Barber, Tangata
Subs: Wood, Fairbank, Larroyer, Gee
Tries: Keyes (6), Calcott (9), Saltonstall (16, 43), Walmsley (36, 54), Murray (72)
Goals: Keyes 6/7
Sin Bin: Gee (79)
Kear, Dawson-Jones, Evans, Gill, Millar, Gibbons, Hallas, Walker, Flanagan, Crossley, England, Butler, Gannon
Subs: Hookem, Wallace, Green, Kibula
Tries: Flanagan (22), Kibula (30), Butler (47)
Goals: Kear 3/3
Sin Bins: England (35), Hallas (73), Gibbons (79)
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