It was honours even at Odsal Stadium as old rivals Halifax Panthers and Bradford Bulls played out a dramatic 22-22 draw in a dramatic Betfred Championship Round 15 clash. Fax thought they had won it after the lead changed hands four times, but with less than a minute to go, Dec Patton kicked a penalty to tie the game and share the points. 
The Panthers gave an immediate debut to Ben Crooks, who had signed just a couple of days before from Keighley Cougars and impressed on his first outing for Fax. But it was an ex Fax Centre who would open the scoring for the Bulls, Joe Arundel strolling through some weak defence on the right with Patton converting for a 6-0 lead and a penalty for a late hit a few minutes later for an 8-0 lead after 15 minutes.

Fax wouldn’t be down for long though, as Matty Gee powered onto a Louis Jouffret pass to plant the ball down on the whitewash before scorer turned provider. James Woodburn-Hall went on the blindside from dummy half on the last tackle, his pass found Gee who threw an outrageous effort out the back to send James Saltonstall flying over for his 11th try of the season right on the half time hooter. Jouffret converted both for a halftime lead of 8-12.

Back came Bradford after the break though as Fenton Rogers powered over under the posts from James Segeyaro’s short ball at the line. Patton converted to give the Bulls the lead once more, but not for long though.

Just as he did on Good Friday last year, Jouffret took the direct route and powered his way over the try line in the right hand corner which he converted for a 14-18 lead. The Panthers grabbed the next score and for many thinking in the ground, including the early departing Bulls fans, the match winning score. Kyle Wood’s chip to the corner claimed by the free scoring Lachlan Walmsley, who wriggled out of a challenge to go over in the corner for his 25th try of the season. Jouffret blotted his copybook from the touchline and this miss would in time prove crucial.

The Bulls hit back inside the last 10 minutes, Brad England charging over through a huge gap in the Fax defence which Patton converted once more for a score line going into the last few minutes of 20-22.

Halifax had the chance to see the game out but rather inevitably the Bulls got out of jail. Chasing the game with just seconds remaining, Segeyaro chipped over the Panthers defensive line in hope rather than expectation but was inexplicably taken out after the kick by Adam Tangata. Referee Tom Grant blew for the penalty which Patton nailed under pressure to tie the game.

There was still drama to come though as Jouffret’s restart grubbered its way dead giving Fax one more chance from the goal line drop out but Patton was accurate from the boot once more, his drop out deep and leaving Saltonstall too much to do to keep it in play. 2 points shared between the two sides but in the eyes of Coach Simon Grix and many Fax supporters, it was certainly a point lost.

Bradford Bulls
Holmes, Blackmore, Arundel, Gill, Foggin-Johnston, Patton, Lilley, Baldwinson, Flanagan, Lawrence, Butler, Thompson, Appo
Subs: England, Scurr, Rogers, Segeyaro

Tries: Arundel (9), Rogers (46), England (71)
Goals: Patton 3/3
Penalties: Patton 2/2

Halifax Panthers
Woodburn-Hall, Walmsley, Tibbs, Crooks, Saltonstall, Jouffret, Wood, Calcott, Moore, Murray, Kavanagh, Gee, Larroyer
Subs: O’Brien, Tangata, Lannon, McComb

Tries: Gee (27), Saltonstall (37), Jouffret (57), Walmsley (65)
Goals: Jouffret 3/4

#FAX150 #MatchReport

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