Halifax Panthers got back to winning ways in red hot conditions at Sale’s Heywood Road with a comprehensive 8-46 win away to Swinton Lions. Lachlan Walmsley grabbed the headlines with 4 tries as Fax scored 38 unanswered points after an 8-8 half time score line.
It was a case of from the furnace to the fire for Fax as South Manchester was hotter than Toulouse the previous week with both sides taking their time to acclimatise to the heat and humidity as well as the hard, dusty turf. The Panthers started the brighter though, Ben Tibbs grabbing his 1st try of the season after 5 mins on the left flank after from great approach play from Kyle Wood, who impressed once more at halfback in the continued absence of Joe Keyes. The Lions roared back though as Nick Gregson stepped through the Fax defence before offloading to Josh Eaves who scored under the posts. Dan Abram converted for a 6-4 lead but back came Fax, this time it was Walmsley who scored yet again on the left from a fantastic Louis Jouffret lofted pass. Jouffret was wide from the tee yet again and the score remained 6-8.
Walmsley had a 2nd ruled out not long after for a forward pass and Swinton levelled the game up at the break with an Abram penalty from 45m out just before the half time hooter.
The second half issues that have dogged the Panthers for the past few games were banished with ease as Fax cut loose scoring 7 tries without reply. Adam Tangata was held up over the line on the last play of the first half but wasted no time in scoring his first try of tthe season in the first minute of the second, pouncing on a dropped Andrew Badrock ball from a Kyle Wood bomb. Jouffret converted his first goal of the game to give Fax the lead that they never looked like losing.
It was the Adam Tangata of old as the Cook Islander made a big midfield break, creating the position for James Woodburn-Hall to feed Walmsley for his 2nd. Fax even went down to 12 men on 2 occasions due to sin bins, firstly Zack McComb for an alleged dangerous tackle and with the score line at 8-18.
Jake Spedding made a break on the right and looked to be on his way to the try line to bring Swinton right back into the game, but the centre inexplicably lost control of the ball under no pressure with the line at his mercy and the Lions’ chance to get anything from the game had gone.
Fax made them pay with a further 5 tries. Walmsley claiming his hattrick after classy centre play from Tibbs, Ben Kavanagh powered his way over supporting a Kyle Wood break. Walmsley then scored his 4th with his now customary interception, pouncing on a loose pass from the home side for his 24th try of the season. Jouffret, who had had an off day with the boot, decided instead to use his feet to devastating effect, racing through a gap in the Lions defence to feed Woodburn-Hall to score before Brandon Moore scored yet another dummy half try with 10 minutes to go to bring the score to 8-46 with Jouffret’s 5th conversion from 9 attempts.
That was the end of the scoring but not the end of the action as Dan Fleming copped a sinbinning from referee Matt Rossleigh for a high tackle 5 minutes from time but it mattered not as Fax got back to winning ways to keep pace with the playoff pack.
Badrock, Romeo, Spedding, Bruines, Halton, Abram, Gibson, Bennion, Eaves, Brogan, Lloyd, Baker, Gregson
Subs: Roby, Baxter, Case, Cox
Try: Eaves (19)
Goal: Abram 1/1
Penalty: Abram 1/1
Woodburn-Hall, Walmsley, Tibbs, McComb, Saltonstall, Jouffret, Wood, Calcott, Moore, Murray, Kavanagh, Gee, Larroyer
Subs: O’Brien, Tangata, Lannon, Fleming
Tries: Tibbs (5), Walmsley (24,47,58,64), Tangata (41), Kavanagh (61), Woodburn-Hall (66), Moore (71)
Goals: Jouffret 5/9
Sin Bin: McComb (50), Fleming (78)