Halifax Panthers recorded a morale boosting, come from behind 38-28 victory over Barrow Raiders in dramatic style on the Cumbrian Coast on Saturday evening.

Despite a Gareth Widdop sin-binning and a hattrick from the outstanding Barrow fullback Luke Cresswell, a Joe Keyes inspired fightback saw Fax claw back from 28-12 down with 25 minutes left to record a vital victory in the Betfred Championship. 

The first half was end to end and nip and tuck affair with both sides exchanging tries where handling and defensive errors were punished. It took just 3 minutes for Barrow to take the lead through an acrobatic effort from Andrew Bulman, finishing off some neat hands from the Raiders. Back came the Panthers though as Ben Tibbs, back in the side and back in the points, powered over on the right flank before Joe Keyes dummied his way through and found a gap in the defence, having enough pace and confidence to round Cresswell for the score.

Jouffret converted both for a 12-4 lead before heading off the field to be replaced by hooker Adam O’Brien, who remained on the field for the duration of the game, Liam Finn stating after the game it was tactical rather than for any injury.

The see-saw battle continued as Cresswell crossed for a quickfire double thanks to great halfback play from Ryan Johnston who converted both and adding a penalty to edge the Raiders into a 18-12 halftime lead.

The lead was increased not long after the interval as Matt Costello walked through a huge gap on the Panthers right before Cresswell claimed his hattrick from a suspect Harvey Makin offload for a 28-12 lead which seemed like a winning score even so early in the second half, which was compounded by referee Cameron Worsley sending Gareth Widdop to the sinbin for saying a word too many in his protestations of the try scoring offload.

Game Over? Not if Halifax and especially Joe Keyes had anything to say about it.

So often in Rugby League, you see the side down to 12 men rally and this was certainly the case here as James Saltonstall crossed for a quickfire double to bring up a milestone of 100 Halifax tries but more importantly bring Fax right back into the game, Keyes converting a tricky touchline effort to cut the defecit to just one score. 

A costly error from the Raiders coming out of yardage gave James Woodburn-Hall the opportunity to dummy his way over directly from the scrum to put Fax within 2 points. Widdop was unsuccessful with the conversion to keep the score 28-26 but in the end it didn’t matter as Fax seized upon the momentum and character that Liam Finn has been looking for to bring home the two points in the end.

There were chances at both ends but the game breaker came from a no chance play, Zack McComb making great yards from his run before being held up over the line by four Barrow defenders. Somehow to the disbelief of most of those inside the ground, the Centre-come-Loose Forward incredibly managed to get the ball down to the delight of both players and supporters to give Fax the lead with 2 minutes to go.

The game wasn’t over though as Barrow claimed the short kick off and launched their final attack on the Panthers line but it was Saltonstall who managed to get a decisive intervention as he intercepted the ball with the Raiders pressing to give Fax possession.

At this point you would have thought they would just conservatively go through their set to finish the game. However, Ben Kavanagh made a half break in midfield, handing the ball to Widdop who used all his experience not to panic and force the offload, took his tackle. This set up the field position to allow Keyes on the last play to dummy and romp his way over the line to confirm a dramatic 38-28 victory and send the travelling fans’ limbs flying

Barrow Raiders
Cresswell, Bulman, Costello, Broadbent, Douglas, Jackson, Johnston, Silva, Wood, Walker, Greenwood, Stack, Worthington
Subs: Shaw, Makin, Gillam, Wilkinson (18th Man: Carter)

Tries: Bulman (3), Cresswell (20, 25, 49), Costello (44)
Goals: Johnston 3/5
Penalty: Johnston 1/1

Halifax Panthers
Woodburn-Hall, Saltonstall, Tibbs, McCormack, Graham, Widdop, Keyes, Tangata, Jouffret, Fairbank, Kavanagh, Gee, C Davies
Subs: O’Brien, Lannon, Boyer, McComb (18th Man: Larroyer)

Tries: Tibbs (7), Keyes (14, 79), Saltonstall (54, 59), Woodburn-Hall (68), McComb (75)
Goals: Jouffret 2/2, Keyes 1/2, Widdop 2/3
Sin Bin: Widdop (49)

#PanthersFamily #MatchReport

You may also like…