Halifax Panthers opened their Betfred Championship account at the second time of asking as London Broncos were dispatched 28-0 in wild and windy West Yorkshire conditions on Sunday.
Tries from Ben Kavanagh, Cory Aston, Matt Garside, Ed Barber and Brandon Moore coupled with some solid goal line defence saw The Panthers whitewash their visitors in tough conditions, moving Fax up to 7th in the table.
The early exchanges were all about ball security, as the heavy downpour made slick handling moves almost impossible for both sides. But the Panthers would strike in the 8th minute thanks to a clever piece of play. Half back Joe Keyes chipped over the London line for the chasing Ben Kavanagh to get to it and open the scoring. Keyes converting for an early 6-0 lead.
It would stay that way all the way to the break as neither side seemed able to assert the dominance on the contest as hailstorms and battering winds swept through The Shay. The Panthers would have sustained periods of pressure, forcing multiple goal line drop outs but were unable to convert that pressure into points. 6-0 at the half way point.
The second half continued in a similar vein as both sides looked to play the territory game. Man of the match Joe Keyes having a big impact with a solid kicking game pinning the Broncos deep in their own half time after time. Entering the final quarter of the match, Fax finally started to turn the screw and assert their dominance.
And they would soon be rewarded. Following solid runs from Fairbank and Gwaze, Keyes’ angled last tackle grubbers caused all kinds of problems in the Broncos backfield. It ricocheted off multiple hands before falling perfectly for fellow half back Cory Aston to dive on the loose ball for a four pointer on his competitive debut. Keyes adding the extras for a 12-0 lead.
The Panthers seemed to have a spring in their step immediately following the score, marching upfield with relative ease. And when Cory Aston was taken out off the ball, there was a penalty awarded within range which could have put Fax three scores up and out of the visitors reach with 15 minutes left to play. Maybe due to the blustery conditions, the Panthers opted to keep the attack rolling rather than going for goal, a decision that would prove to be the correct one just moments later.
After forcing another goal line drop out, Fax finally landed the killer blow. Cory Aston went hard at the line and delayed his pass just long enough to draw the defence in and allow space for Matt Garside to fly onto the short ball and power his way over right in front of the South Stand. Keyes maintaining his 100% record with the boot for an 18-0 score line.
But the Panthers weren’t satisfied just yet and they went back to back just 3 minutes later, Aston again the provider. Moore and Tangata combining to find Cory Aston, the half back perfectly timing a flicked pass on to the onrushing Ed Barber, who was never going to be stopped from that range. He slid over for arguably the score of the match. Keyes off target for the first time putting the score at 22-0 approaching the final 10.
The icing on the cake would come right on the hooter. Adam Tangata going close before a quick play the ball gave Brandon Moore the perfect opportunity to gather and go over under the sticks straight from dummy half. Keyes slotting it over from bang in front to warm the hearts of Fax fans everywhere on a cold winters day in West Yorkshire. Final score – Halifax Panthers 28 – 0 London Broncos
Martin, McComb, Barber, Arundel, Saltonstall, Aston, Keyes, Tangata, Moore, Murray, Kavanagh, Garside, Larroyer
Subs: Wood, Gwaze,, Fairbank, Calcott
Tries: Kavanagh (8), Aston (61), Garside (66), Barber (70), Moore (79)
Goals: Keyes 4/5
Moceidreke, Macani, Dalton, Ferreira, Juma, Horsman, Coates, Blakemore, Parata, Williams, Lovell, Curran, Foster
Subs: Palumbo, Tuliatu, Bienek, Ramsey
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