Halifax Panthers made it three wins on the spin, including consecutive Betfred Championship victories for the first time this year, with a 34-10 victory over their Big Cat neighbours Keighley Cougars. The score line perhaps doesn’t tell the whole story due to a host of missed chances for both sides as Fax especially garnered frustration from Coach Simon Grix. But ultimately pleased in the end with his side’s efforts backing up an impressive Cup win against Featherstone Rovers the previous week with 2 vital league points.
Grix decided to rotate his hooking options on Sunday with Captain Brandon Moore given a much deserved breather, with Kyle Wood starting at 9. But it was another consistent performer who started the scoring less than 5 minutes in, James Saltonstall scoring his 5th try of the season after neat work on the powerplay from Louis Jouffret and Zack McComb giving ‘Salty’ the room to finish on the flank. Joe Keyes resumed his goalkicking responsibilities but couldn’t find the target from the tee first off, but it was to be his only miss of the afternoon as the Irish International returned to form in a big way.
It wouldn’t be before the Cougars roared back though just before the quarter hour mark with Robbie Storey charging over on the right edge. Luke Gale missed with the conversion as the scores were level.
It was to his opposite number who would take over the game from here on out. Keyes crossing for his first try of the season after stepping through the Keighley defence and then converting to get his confidence right up. This showed as 5 minutes later, the Keyes-Kavanagh combination finally got going in 2023 after being lethal in 2022. Big Ben charging over from close range after a Keyes short ball on the last tackle taking advantage of a mismatch in numbers after Keighley’s Brendan Santi was sinbinned for a professional foul.
The Cougars rallied and after keeping the ball alive brilliantly, it was shipped wide to the right flank where it looked like a certain try for the visitors.
But it was that man again Lachlan Walmsley who plucked the ball out of the air to intercept and race 90 metres away to score under the sticks after evading numerous Cougars defenders. Fax managed to get one more score right on the half time hooter to effectively put the game too far from the visitors. Tom Inman, with what is fast becoming his trademark, burrowing over from dummy half to score his 2nd try in as many matches. Keyes’ conversions bringing the half time score line to 28-4 in favour of the Panthers and a mountain to climb for Keighley.
The Cougars fancied climbing it though as after Jake Maizen was sinbinned in the first set of the second half for a professional foul, Storey grabbed his 2nd try of the afternoon with Gale this time successful from wide out. 28-10 with a man advantage gave Keighley hope.
Time wasn’t their friend though as the clocked ticked away with plenty of opportunities for both sides not taken and even though Jacob Fairbank was given a yellow card for an illegal challenge to the legs with just over 10 minutes to go, it was Fax who would score what proved to be the final try of the match.
Walmsley this time profiting from a Joe Keyes interception to dive over and finally put the game beyond any doubt. A nasty finger injury sustained earlier in the game however, will keep the Flying Scotsman out for a number of weeks. Keyes’ conversion bringing the final score to Halifax Panthers 34-10 Keighley Cougars as a well earned win for the men from The Shay.
Woodburn-Hall, Walmsley, Maizen, McComb, Saltonstall, Jouffret, Keyes, Maher, Wood, Murray, Kavanagh, Gee, Fairbank
Subs: Inman, Calcott, Tangata, Gannon
Tries: Saltonstall (4), Keyes (23), Kavanagh (29), Walmsley (36,71), Inman (39)
Goals: Keyes 5/6
Sin Bins: Maizen (41), Fairbank (68)
Young, Graham, Storey, Stephenson, Dyer-Dixon, Gale, Gaylor, Santi, Kesik, Parker, Levy, Tomlinson, Spence
Subs: Doyle, Adebiyi, Ioane, Walker
Tries: Storey (13,42)
Goals: Gale 1/2
Sin Bin: Santi (19)