Match Report by Jack Prince
Jacob Fairbank and Halifax Panthers made their comeback to score a 16 – 6 victory over York Knights at The Shay on Sunday to move up to fifth in the Betfred Championship. Blowing off last week’s Derby defeat to Bradford Bulls, Lachlan Walmsley and Jacob Fairbank made sure it was the Panthers walking away with the two points and victory.
Despite a very late try from James Glover, it marked the fourth consecutive league loss for York, split only by a surprising victory over Sheffield Eagles in the Betfred Challenge Cup.
Halifax looked for a quick win before a second clash with the Bulls in our cup match this Saturday. While the Knights had an uphill battle from the start, with 12 of their players currently out on injury or suspension. York’s James Glover kicked off, where an early half-break from James Woodburn-Hall stirred the Panthers into action.
Halifax kept threatening the Knights’ flanks and soon enough, Lachlan Walmsley got the first try of the afternoon in the top-left corner after 16 minutes, maintaining his record of scoring in every game he has played in this year. Keyes made the conversion putting Halifax up 6-0.
The Panthers had the initiative. James Cunningham went for a grubber from the ruck but Walmsley reads it like a book. He and Woodburn-Hall nearly go the distance but York just scrapes the tackle in their 20. It was Adam Tangata’s turn now as he saw gold on the left side of the sticks, but was just barely held up.
Then a dangerous tackle by York gave Fax their chance. Once again, Walmsley grabbed a try in the top-left corner, 25 minutes in. No conversion, but it left Halifax 10-0 up and in a strong position.
Not long after, Keyes was almost decapitated by a late high tackle from Cunningham, who got sin-binned 31 minutes in for the offence. Tangata saw another opportunity to boulder over the line, but got held up again as Fax piled on the pressure.
York got seven tackles from a dead ball and Alwyn ‘AJ’ Towse made a great run on the left flank, but he passed away from touch and straight to Tibbs, as he and Maizen looked for another try in the top corner.
Yet bad errors from Halifax eventually forced them into a goal line dropout. As Oli Field ploughed into the Halifax line, hoping to grab York’s first try, but the Panthers held strong as halftime sounded.
Keyes started the second-half. As York tried in vain to break through the halfway line. But Halifax were unrelenting, and rapidly followed with an inspired grubber from Tom Inman, who gave Jacob Fairbank his first try of the match – marking his return from suspension in style. Louis Jouffret stepped up to easily kick the conversion, giving Halifax 16-0.
Woodburn-Hall looked to be suffering from an earlier tackle and was replaced by Brandon Pickersgill at full-back. Soon, York were back in possession, a strong drive from Jordan Thompson gave the Knights’ a steady platform but there was no-one to support him.
Another opportunity came for Thompson but was closed down by Halifax. At this point, York clearly wanted to up the pace but a pass for Towse went wide of the man, another error they couldn’t afford.
But it was clear that everyone was flagging. As York got possession after a knock-on, they barged through to Halifax’s 30, but with no kicker and onsetting fatigue, the Knights were left frustrated.
Just then, Oli Fields kicked to James Glover on the left wing as York finally got their first numbers on the board, 77 minutes in. Glover got the conversion to make it 16-6 but as the klaxon sounded, it was too little too late.
Overall, a comfortable win for Halifax in a game they controlled from the start. Now the Panthers look ahead to next week’s Challenge Cup game, hoping to undo their defeat against Bradford Bulls and move forward in the tables. Final score: Halifax Panthers 16-6 York Knights
Woodburn-Hall, Walmsley, Maizen, Tibbs, McComb, Jouffret, Keyes, Calcott, Moore, Murray, Kavanagh, Gee, Fairbank
Subs: Inman, Lannon, Tangata, Pickersgill
Tries: Walmsley (15,24), Fairbank (49)
Goals: Keyes 1/2, Jouffret 1/1
York RLFC Knights
Brown, Barley, Glover, Harrison, Towse, Field, Cunningham, Kirby, Jubb, Taai, Clarkson, Antrobus, Thompson
Subs: Daley, Michael, Teanby, Ward
Tries: Glover (76)
Goals: Glover 1/1
Sin Bin: Cunningham (31)
Match Sponsors: Cre8tive Teamwear
Match Ball Sponsors: Stagefreight
Man of the Match: Ryan Lannon