Halifax Panthers made it four straight wins in all competitions with a comprehensive 60-0 over Whitehaven at a sun soaked Shay. Fax demolished their opponents with eleven tries in all, ex-Haven flyer Lachlan Walmsley leading the way with four tries and Joe Keyes with a masterclass with hands and feet, notching five try assists, numerous line breaks and eight goals in total.
The Panthers never looked back after racing into a 26-0 half time lead which started as early as the 3rd minute, Walmsley’s acrobatic finish in the tightest of spots in front of his former fans was a sign of what was to come.
Keyes landed a beauty of a conversion from the touchline. Keyes’ boot would feature 5 minutes later when his perfectly weighted grubber kick behind the defensive line was pounced on by who else but Walmsley yet again. Keyes converted for a 12-0 lead which became 16-0 two minutes later.
A break in midfield by the impressive Will Calcott gave Fax the field position and the ball was quickly moved wide thanks to a lovely lofted pass from Louis Jouffret to James Saltonstall, who showed that Walmsley isn’t the only Fax winger who can score acrobatic tries in the corner. Keyes’ conversion hit the post from the touchline.
In the next 20 minutes, the game became a bit scrappy, both sides spilling the ball with Fax dropping at least two try scoring passes with the line at their mercy. Normality resumed five minutes before the interval though as James Woodburn-Hall, back in his preferred fullback position after playing at stand off against Newcastle, scored a brace of tries.
The first after neat footwork from Jouffret created the space for the Jamaican International to power his way over wide on the right. His second dummying his way over in the same spot after the space was made by a big carry from the returning Dan Fleming, who impressed on his 2nd debut for the club. Keyes converted one of those tries for a 26-0 halftime score line.
After last week’s second half where, with Fax comfortably in front, Newcastle plundered three easy tries. No doubt the message from Simon Grix was to keep Whitehaven to zero and this week the men in blue and white heeded his message while piling on the points after the break.
It became the Joe Keyes show as the Irish international had a hand or foot in pretty much every score in the second half. Less than three minutes after the break, Keyes pounced on an error from Haven to race away towards the line, unselfishly handing the ball onto the supporting Walmsley to claim his hattrick. Keyes converted and yet again his boot had a part to play in the next score, his left edge combination with Ben Kavanagh up and running once more as the big second rower dived on Keyes’ grubber to score.
Keyes’ made his last unsuccessful conversion of the day as Fax began to cut loose in the Spring sunshine. Eribe Doro was at the double with a impactful stint off the bench, his brace of tries sandwiching a Jacob Fairbank touchdown. Keyes converted all three scores before converting the now customary Lachlan Walmsley long range interception try 5 minutes from time to bring up his 19th try in 12 appearances in 2023. An emphatic 60-0 victory for Fax putting them joint 3rd in the Betfred Championship table with our next two league opponents Batley Bulldogs and Toulouse Olympique.
Woodburn-Hall, Walmsley, Tibbs, McComb, Saltonstall, Jouffret, Keyes, Calcott, Moore, Murray, Kavanagh, Gee, Fairbank
Subs: Wood, Doro, Fleming, Tangata
Tries: Walmsley (3,11,42,72), Saltonstall (14), Woodburn-Hall (34,38), Kavanagh (48), Doro (55,65), Fairbank (60),
Goals: Keyes 8/11
Rourke, Eccleston, Haynes, Teare, O Doran, J Doran, Bishop, Castle, Newton, Ainley, Lanskey, Holliday, Graham
Subs: Walker, Aiye, Tabu, Singleton
Man of the Match: Joe Keyes
Match Sponsors: Calderdale College
Match Ball Sponsors: Stagefreight