Halifax Panthers recorded their first win in six Betfred Championship games with a morale boosting 34-8 win over Doncaster RLFC, with Captain Joe Keyes the star of the show, setting his side on the way to victory with 2 first half tries.

For several weeks, Liam Finn has been saying after every loss that the effort and hard work is there, it was again but matched with confidence and guile as Fax outscored their opponents 5 tries to 2, with Doncaster’s tries only coming in the final 5 minutes of the game.

In the run of losses, the Panthers have been notoriously slow starters, often conceding first and then some. This time it was different as Fax started like a bullet from a gun, aided by the introduction of 2 Leeds Dual Registration players in Leon Ruan and the impressive Ned McCormack alongside new signing Mathieu Pons, they instilled a new found confidence which spread to the players on the end of a 5 game losing streak.

Alongside a tactical switch of Gareth Widdop to Fullback, the reunion of Louis Jouffret and Keyes to halfback reignited the Panthers’ creative juices. Keyes dummying his way over the tryline twice in the first 15 minutes with Jouffret converting both to put Fax 12-0 up. In truth, it could and probably should have been more, but for Pons putting a foot in touch just before diving over, Fax would have been in control but with only a 12-0 scoreline after the run of games Fax had had, nobody was holding their breath.

The first try after half time is always crucial in a game of Rugby League, thankfully it went the way of the Panthers thanks to Corey Johnson’s brilliant break which set up Widdop to score underneath the posts. Jouffret converted for an 18-0 lead and then even more crucially converted a long range penalty to put Fax 4 scores up at 20-0 which put the game in the Panthers control, yet there was still that little crumb of doubt that comes when you haven’t won in 6 games.

That doubt was well and truly put to bed as McCormack broke from a Fax scrum on their own 10m line to race away, evade Luke Briscoe to dive over in front of a rapturous South Stand.

The Panthers weren’t done as Jouffret spotted a gap in the Dons defence to break through then offload to Kevin Larroyer who managed to charge his way over the line to well and truly put the game to bed at 32-0.

Two late Doncaster tries from Bureta Faraimo and Briscoe took a bit of the gloss off but the day belonged to the Panthers, a Jouffret penalty after the full time hooter sounded the cherry on top of a nicer tasting cake Fax have served up in the past few weeks for a final score of Halifax Panthers 34-8 Doncaster.

Halifax Panthers
Widdop, Saltonstall, McCormack, McComb, Pons, Jouffret, Keyes, Tangata, Johnson, Fairbank, Ruan, Gee, C Davies
Subs: Hursey, Douglas, Larroyer, Lannon (18th Man: O Davies)

Tries: Keyes (3, 13), Widdop (41), McCormack (63), Larroyer (71)
Goals: Jouffret 5/5
Penalty: Jouffret 2/2

Doncaster RLFC
Hall, Briscoe, Hey, Tali, Faraimo, Johnston, Boas, Knowles, Lovodua, Matagi, Sutcliffe, Pauli, McConnell
Subs: Holdstock, Guzdek, Kenga, Hepi (18th Man: Mafi)

Tries: Faramio (75), Briscoe (78)
Goals: Hall 0/2

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