Halifax Panthers fell to a what could be a crucial 26-28 defeat to fellow play off hopefuls Widnes that saw the Vikings leapfrog Fax into 7th place in the table to leave the Panthers three points adrift from the top 6 with just 4 games left of the regular season to play.
Widnes made it a league double over the Panthers for only our second league defeat at the Shay in 2023, with the majority of the damage being done in the first 20 minutes.
Ryan Ince scoring a hattrick with three very similar worked tries down the Panthers left hand side. Ben Crooks did pull one back after Ince’s second but the winger’s third put the Vikings 14-6 up just before half time.
When Adam Tangata powered his way over on his 200th career appearance to score against his former club, Jouffret’s conversion and a penalty just before the hooter put Fax back to an unlikely 14-14 at the break.
It could have been even better for the Panthers when on the last play of the half, the returning Joe Keyes chipped over the top, the bounce found Lachlan Walmsley perfectly and he kicked and chased through looking for his 34th try of the season. However, it was that man Ince again who proved the matchwinner at both ends of the field, getting to the ball first to deny the Flying Scotsman.
The first score of the second half would be crucial and unfortunately from a Fax perspective, it went to the visitors. To compound the misery, Widnes scored back to back tries, firstly Danny Craven somehow managed to claim the ball from Crooks’ clutches from a cross field kick and then Jack Owens stormed over from a neat Tom Gilmore inside ball.
Kieran Dixon, who had an off day with the boot and his general play, stepped up when it mattered and nailed the 2 conversions as well as a penalty to put the Vikings 14-28 up going into the last quarter.
Halifax huffed and puffed but bar a well taken try from James Saltonstall after brilliant centre play from Man of the Match Crooks, the Widnes defence showed enough character and desperation to see the game out and leave the Shay with the 2 points.
Craven’s sin binning as a result of consecutive interference penalties was inconsequential and Crooks’ well deserved second try after the hooter was a mere consolation to put a slightly flattering look to the final score line of Halifax Panthers 26-28 Widnes Vikings, leaving Fax needing to win all 4 of their tough remaining fixtures to stand any chance of making the 2023 end of season playoffs.
Pickersgill, Walmsley, Sutcliffe, Crooks, Saltonstall, Jouffret, Keyes, Calcott, Moore, Murray, Kavanagh, Gee, Fairbank
Subs: O’Brien, Tangata, Lannon, McComb
Tries: Crooks (22,79), Tangata (30), Saltonstall (61)
Goals: Jouffret 4/4
Penalty: Jouffret 1/1
Owens, Ince, Fleming, Edge, Dixon, Craven, Gilmore, Field, Fozard, Farnworth, Wilde, Grady, Brown
Subs: Forber, Davies, Worthington, Roberts
Tries: Ince (4,11,26), Craven (54), Owens (58)
Goals: Dixon 3/5
Penalty: Dixon 1/1
Sin Bin: Craven (77)
Man of the Match: Ben Crooks
Match Sponsors: Restorative Social Care Services