MATCH REPORT | PANTHERS FALL TO OPENING DAY DEFEAT
Halifax Panthers went down 30-18 to Batley Bulldogs on the opening day of the 2022
Betfred Championship season. Tries from Adam Tangata, Brandon Moore and Joe Arundel plus a Joe Keyes penalty not enough as the hosts fight back to take the spoils in a classic game of two halves on a chilly afternoon at The Fox’s Biscuits Stadium.
It was the Panthers who started brightest, racing out to a 16-0 lead down the famous slope. The deadlock was broken in the 6th minute. Ben Kavanagh forcing the ball free with a big hit in defence allowed Lachlan Walmsley to collect and head for the line.
Held up just short, the quick thinking Adam Tangata spotted a lapse in concentration on the Batley goal line to dive over straight from dummy half. Keyes converted from the touchline for an early 6-0 score line. And it soon get better for the hosts in similar fashion.
Captain Brandon Moore burrowing his way through multiple Bulldogs defenders to force his way over to the right of the sticks. Keyes on target with the boot again. 12-0 Fax.
The Panthers defensive line would soon be tested as the hosts tried to fight their way back into the game. But it stood up to the challenge firmly thanks to some solid
work on the goal line.
The game then saw a stoppage after a potentially serious injury to Panthers forward Brad Knowles, who went down awkwardly under pressure from three defenders and
was unable to continue.
Halifax would soon extend their lead even further. Louis Jouffret putting in a low grubber kick on the last tackle, which ricocheted backwards then forwards before falling perfectly for the chasing Joe Arundel to collect and score on his competitive debut for the club. Keyes couldn’t add the extras this time but the Panthers were looking comfortable with a 16-0 margin as the break approached.
But the good work would soon be undone as the hosts pinched a score right on the hooter to give them hope. A looped pass finding winger Johnny Campbell in space and he did just enough to hold off the challenge of Louis Jouffret to score right in the left hand corner. Former Fax halfback Tom Gilmore converting from the side line for a 16-6 Panthers advantage at the break.
But that lead was soon cut down even further just 3 minutes into the second half. Luke Hooley latching on to a Gilmore kick behind the Fax line to chip it on for himself and touch down. Gilmore converting again to knock the lead down to one score. 16-12.
Ill discipline and errors then took over the match as both sides struggled to take control. When James Brown was shown yellow for a punch on Titus Gwaze, the Panthers opted to go for goal against the 12 men of the Bulldogs. Joe Keyes adding the two points from the penalty to push the lead to six. 18-12.
The hosts started to take advantage of playing downhill as they rolled forward with ease at times. Errors constantly shutting down any chance the visitors had of adding to the score line.
And when Joe Martin was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul and the Panthers down to 12 men, it seemed only a matter of time.
Batley instantly made the man advantage count as Perry Whiteley went over in the right corner. Gilmore adding the extras to level the scores at 18 all.
And it went from bad to worse for Fax as Keyes was sent to the side line for ten for a high tackle and a second sin binning in 7 minutes reduced Panthers to eleven men at a crucial point in the match.
Yet again, it was unforced errors that would cost Halifax dearly, and the Bulldogs would smell blood. With solid field position, it looked like the drop goal was inevitable. But they wouldn’t need the one pointer as they soon got over for four. Michael Ward taking a short ball at the line and exploiting the lack of Panthers defenders to go over under the sticks. Gilmore on target again and now Fax really faced an uphill battle.
And Batley would soon land the killer blow, James Brown offloading to the supporting Alistair Leak to go over for the converted score to seal the points for the home side. Final score Batley Bulldogs 30 Halifax Panthers 18
Hooley, Whiteley, Hodson, Senior, Campbell, Meadows, Gilmore, Gledhill, Leak, Brown, Buchanan, Walshaw, White
Subs: Blagbrough, Ward, Lillycrop, Collinson
Tries: Campbell (39), Hooley (43), Whiteley (65), Ward (75), Leak (77)
Goals: Gilmore (5/5)
Sin Bin: Brown
Martin, Walmsley, McComb, Arundel, Saltonstall, Jouffret, Keyes, Tangata, Moore, Murray, Kavanagh, Barber, Larroyer
Subs: Wood, Gwaze, Knowles, Morris
Tries: Tangata (6), Moore (15), Arundel (25)
Goals: Keyes 2/3
Penalty: Keyes 1/1
Sin Bin: Martin, Keyes
#PanthersAreInTown #ChooseFax #MoreThanAGame