Halifax Panthers got back to winning ways in the Betfred Championship with a hard fought 18-10 victory over the Batley Bulldogs in their first home game of the 2024 season at a rain soaked Shay Stadium.

After the disappointing defeat and performance in the Derby on Good Friday, Fax answered any criticism by fronting up in defence against a big, physical Bulldogs pack featuring former Captain Brandon Moore.

In horrendous weather, Fax played the conditions as well as anyone too, Gareth Widdop in particular coming up with telling kicks to change the momentum in Fax’s favour.

The Panthers got on the scoresheet first too, Jacob Fairbank breaking through with a beautiful dummy before handing the ball onto Man of the Match Tom Inman who slid in under the posts. Louis Jouffret converted then added what turned out to be an important penalty goal soon after to give Fax an 8-0 lead coming up to half time, a half where in the worsening conditions, good handling was at a premium.

In typical Batley fashion though, the Bulldogs would not go away as Robbie Butterworth pounced on a Ben White kick which deflected off the posts for a try which Dale Morton converted to get Batley well and truly back into the game at 8-6 at the break.

The rain continued to pour and the notorious Shay pitch became more and more like the Somme, but Fax’s Band of Brothers turned up for each other time after time in defence as they showed the grit and desperation Fax fans love.

The defence laid the platform for the Panthers to score what turned out to be the match winning try. After Jouffret booted over an earlier penalty, James Woodburn-Hall dummied his way over on the left to score a try in consecutive games.

Jouffret pulled his conversion wide but Fax still had the two-score lead at 14-6, which became 16-6 after Jouffret converted another penalty on the hour mark.

Despite their best efforts, Batley could not get past the Panthers robust, desperate defence until the last 2 minutes. In echoes of the 1895 Cup Final, the Bulldogs scored a well worked try in the left corner late on, this time Elliot Kear turned from scorer to provider as his bullet pass found Joe Burton to give Batley hope despite Morton’s conversion falling short. However from the kickoff, the Bulldogs knocked on and then conceded a penalty for dissent which Jouffret booted over on the hooter to the delight of the Fax fans and players to send them home happy with an 18-10 victory.

Halifax Panthers
Woodburn-Hall, Saltonstall, Tibbs, Smith, McComb, Jouffret, Widdop, Larroyer, Inman, Fairbank, Kavanagh, Gee, C Davies
Subs: Keyes, Tangata, Lannon, O Davies (18th Man: Hursey)

Tries: Inman (10), Woodburn-Hall (51)
Goals: Jouffret 1/2
Penalties: Jouffret 4/4

Batley Bulldogs
Butterworth, Morton, Mitsias, Buchanan, J Burton, White, Kear, Gledhill, Leak, Cooper, Manning, Walshaw, Moore
Subs: Brown, O Burton, Flynn, Ward (18th Man: Senior)

Tries: Butterworth (34), J Burton (78)
Goals: Morton 1/2

#BWO #MatchReport

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