Halifax Panthers got back to winning ways at the right time of the season as they made it a league double over Whitehaven with a 8-30 victory on the sunbathed Cumbrian Coast.
Louis Jouffret did the damage against his former club with an 18 point haul including two tries and five goals to claim a well deserved Man of the Match award.
Simon Grix promised changes following defeat to Widnes and duly delivered as James Woodburn-Hall reverted to his more familiar fullback role with Brandon Pickersgill dropping out, Tom Inman came in for Brandon Moore and the Dans were interchanged with Fleming coming in for Murray.
The first half was a scrappy affair, unsurprising with both sides struggling for form and confidence in recent weeks. Whitehaven dominated the penalty count 7-1 by the interval but were not really able to take advantage on the scoreboard.
It was Fax that struck first, Woodburn-Hall showing the form he has shown while standing in at half-back to take the ball at first receiver on the last tackle, dummying and stepping through the Haven defence to power over the line.
Jouffret judged the strong wind perfectly to begin his flawless afternoon from the tee. Haven struck back not long after with Daniel Spencer-Tonks plunging over from short range off the back of consecutive penalties and repeat sets from Haven.
Josh Rourke hit the woodwork from the conversion which meant that the Panthers held a slender lead at half time 4-6.
As has been the case all season in nip and tuck games like this, the first score of the second half would be crucial and it went to that man Jouffret, stepping up in the big moments like he has all year. His last tackle grubber bounced off a Haven leg back onto his own and he managed to ground the ball just before the dead ball line for the crucial score. He converted his own score from bang in front and with Fax two scores ahead at 4-12, the Panthers started to play with their tales up and with a confidence not seen for a few weeks.
Jouffret scored his second pretty much straight away, after his kick over the top trapped Brad Holroyd behind his in goal area forcing a drop out, the French International strolled through a huge gap in the home defence after great work left then right from Joe Keyes and Woodburn-Hall.
The conversion put Fax 4-18 up and it became 4-24 with 10 minutes to go with Ben Kavanagh crowning his 100th appearance for the club with a typically strong effort from a great Keyes pass on the left flank.
The icing was put on the cake soon after with Jouffret putting Liam Sutcliffe through a gap thanks to a great line from the Castleford loanee, the second rower drawing the fullback and sending fellow back rower Matty Gee over under the posts to sign off a great victory. Jouffret converted all the scores to put Fax 4-30 up before Haven had the last word with an acrobatic Oscar Doran try in the corner on the hooter.
Rourke cursing his luck as he hit the woodwork yet again from his conversion attempt but the game was settled long before.
A much needed victory for Simon Grix and the players in their final ‘long distance’ away day of the regular season which keeps them in the hunt for the end of season playoffs. Whitehaven 8-30 Halifax Panthers
Rourke, Holroyd, Taylor, Eccleston, O Doran, Carter, J Doran, Castle, Newton, Ainley, Holliday, Teare, Aiye
Subs: Lanskey, Singleton, Hill, Spencer-Tonks
Tries: Spencer-Tonks (33), O Doran (78)
Goals: Rourke 0/2
Woodburn-Hall, Walmsley, Crooks, McComb, Saltonstall, Jouffret, Keyes, Calcott, O’Brien, Tangata, Kavanagh, Gee, Fairbank
Subs: Inman, Lannon, Sutcliffe, Fleming
Tries: Woodburn-Hall (18), Jouffret (51,55), Kavanagh (67), Gee (75)
Goals: Jouffret 5/5
Man of the Match: Louis Jouffret