Halifax Panthers once again put on a show for the Premier Sports cameras with an important 36-10 win over York to leapfrog the Knights into 3rd at a red hot Shay Stadium.
Lachlan Walmsley earned the plaudits from the Premier Sports pundits with a great all round performance including a brace of tries, the first after 11 minutes after great build up play from James Woodburn-Hall finding Walmsley who skinned his opposite number to finish in the corner. Joe Keyes landed the first of his 5 conversions and was successful from the tee less than 5 minutes later, converting yet another try from the now prolific Dan Murray, finishing off a great move from Louis Jouffret and Matty Gee to send the Panthers 12-0 up.
This sparked the Knights into life and just as they thought they had Fax on the rack a Brendan O’Hagan kick was scooped up by Woodburn-Hall who raced away and for all money looked to be going over the whitewash himself but 10m out from the tryline he handed the ball onto Ben Tibbs who gleefully accepted the gift to score his 10th try in 10 games. Keyes converting for a much deserved 18-0 lead.
York weren’t 3rd in the table before the game for no reason and they struck back almost immediately, Chris Clarkson pouncing on a O’Hagan grubber to bring the Knights back to 18-4 and a potential comeback. That’s what would have happened if not for heroic defence from the Panthers, the last 10 minutes of the half the ball belonged to York by ways of penalties and repeat sets. But it was that man Walmsley who typified the spirit of the 2022 Panthers side, seemingly coming from nowhere to stop Joe Brown going in at the corner bringing a roar from the home crowd usually reserved for a match winning try!
18-4 at half Time meant the first try of the second half would be vital. Both sides challenging the line but it looked like it would be the Panthers who would strike first. Great shift from right to left then back right finding Kevin Larroyer with a two man overlap, but the Frenchman inexplicably held on, caught in possession and the chance had gone.
In times gone by this would have left the Shay deflated but the South Stand roared on the Fax players and it was Joe Keyes who delivered. His bomb was spilled by ex Fax star Liam Harris thanks to a great chasing tackle from Walmsley and the halfback stormed over the line for a decisive score sending the home crowd into raptures. His conversion making it 24-4 with just under 25 minutes left.
Keyes then started to pull the strings to see the boys home, his kicking game forcing the Knights to come from deep or goal line drop outs. It was this field position which led to the try which ended the game as a contest, Woodburn-Hall going close on the right before Louis Jouffret burrowed over from dummy half in now typical fashion. Keyes maintaining his perfect record from the boot to make it 30-4.
York wouldn’t go away though and after more constant sets on the Panthers line the dam burst with Will Jubb going over from acting half back for nothing more than a consolation score with Harris converting for 30-10.
Keyes took the decision to take an easy shot at goal for a penalty to keep the scoreboard ticking at 32-10 before the perfect finish to the game. The Panthers utilising the short side with Joe Arundel and Ed Barber sending Walmsley away to score his 19th try of the season to the delight of the Fax faithful and a well deserved 36-10 win and 3rd place at the expense of the Knights.
Woodburn-Hall, Walmsley, Arundel, Tibbs, Saltonstall, Jouffret, Keyes, Calcott, Moore, Murray, Kavanagh, Gee, Tangata
Subs: Wood, Fairbank, Larroyer, Barber
Tries: Walmsley (11, 79), Murray (16), Tibbs (23), Keyes (54), Jouffret (67),
Goals: Keyes 5/6
Penalty: Keyes 1/1
York City Knights
Harris, Brown, Glover, Edwards, Towse, O’Hagan, Ellis, Matongo, Jubb, Pauli, Kirmond, Clarkson, Thompson
Subs: Harrison, Teanby, Michael, Antrobus
Tries: Clarkson (28), Jubb (73)
Goals: Harris 1/1, Ellis 0/1
#PanthersAreInTown #ChooseFax #MoreThanAGame