Halifax Panthers made it 2 wins from 3 and an unbeaten home start to 2023…just, after a dramatic 26-18 victory over London Broncos.
In a scrappy affair where both sides received plenty of penalties and six agains from the whistle of referee Cameron Worsley, Fax came out on top with a brace of tries from 200 game man James Saltonstall and a debut try for Eribe Doro proving the difference.
The Panthers were looking to avenge their defeat in the Capital last Summer and built up a 10-0 lead in the first half hour.
Louis Jouffret reacted quickest to a charge down to race away after a Broncos kick bounced off his chest before outpacing Iliess Macani to score his first try of the season. Joe Keyes just off target with the conversion attempt. Scorer then turned provider as the Frenchman’s long ball found Saltonstall free on the edge to score his 2nd try of the season on his 200th appearance for the club.
Once again for consecutive home games, Fax let the visitors back into the match just before the break as Zach Eckersley pounced on a Dean Parata grubber, Oli Leyland converting for a half time score of 10-6 and the Broncos well and truly back in the game.
Referee Cameron Worsley still gave both sides plenty of penalties and six agains as the game carried on its stop-start nature after the restart. But it was Fax who made the most of their opportunities.
Lachlan Walmsley carrying on his consecutive scoring run by grabbing a try after great approach work from Ben Kavanagh and the returning Ben Tibbs providing an perfect offload for the Scottish international to cross unopposed. Keyes was off the mark from the tee but he was soon converting a memorable score a few minutes later as Eribe Doro stormed over to the roar of the South Stand to crown his debut for Fax with a brilliant solo try, stepping his way through the line to crash over next to the sticks.
Saltonstall scored his 2nd from another Jouffret long and lofted pass out wide, hitting the ball at pace before crashing over in the corner. At 24-6, it should have spelled game over but the Broncos came galloping back into the game.
The impressive Dean Parata took advantage of sleeping Panthers defence as he dived on his own kick and Bill Leyland scooted over from dummy half. With Oli Leyland converting both tries, it was 24-18 with 10 minutes to go and all to play for.
It looked to all be going wrong for Fax, as Dan Murray was sin binned for a professional foul as he took out a kick chaser in back play with the line begging. But it was Fax who would prevail in the end as Joe Keyes booted over a penalty in the 77th minute to put much needed breathing space between the 2 sides. Final score Halifax 26-18 London.
Woodburn-Hall, Walmsley, Tibbs, McComb, Saltonstall, Jouffret, Keyes, Larroyer, Moore, Maher, Kavanagh, Gee, Tangata
Subs: Wood, Doro, Murray, Smith
Tries: Jouffret (16), Saltonstall (30,57), Walmsley (46), Doro (50)
Goals: Keyes 2/5
Penalties: Keyes 1/1
Walker, Ulberg, Bassett, Eckersley, Macani, O Leyland, Parata, Bienek, Davis, Hill, Lovell, Natoli, Stock
Subs: B Leyland, Albert, Williams, Silva
Tries: Eckersley (35), Parata (64), Leyland (68)
Goals: Leyland 3/3
Sponsors Man of the Match: Joe Keyes
Match Sponsors: Safe Stage Services
Match Ball Sponsors: Eclipse Energy