Halifax Panthers winless run against Featherstone continued yesterday as the heavy Championship favourites inflicted a ruthless 46-22 defeat on Fax at the Millennium Stadium at Post Office Road.
Although Fax did show glimpses of their attacking prowess, scoring some eye-catching tries, it was Rovers who showed why they are so many observers pick to finally make the jump up to Super League at the end of the season with a dominant display.
Although the Panthers had the downhill advantage in the first half, it was the home side who controlled proceedings. Prolific points scorer Chris Hankinson, ex Panther Gadwin Springer, Matty Wildie and Caleb Aekins all crossing for Fev, punishing some lacking defence and getting the bounce of the ball to race into an early 24-0 lead.
However just before half time, James Woodburn-Hall was taken high with a cynical swinging arm, McKenzie Yei was shown yellow by referee Chris Kendall.
Panthers quickly took advantage of the man overlap, Lachlan Walmsley crossed in the corner after slick hands and a quality cut out ball from Man of the Match James Woodburn-Hall to give the Panthers a glimmer of hope at 24-4 at half time.
It looked like the comeback could be on as straight from the restart, Louis Jouffret broke through and fed James Saltonstall, who kicked and chased but the move broke down and with it went Fax’s chances to win the game.
Hankinson kept the scoreboard ticking over with a penalty before Caleb Aekins claimed his 2nd try of the game after neat work from Halifax born half back Riley Dean. Provider then turned scorer as Dean stepped his way over to score before Fax finally got a bounce of the ball…literally.
Joe Keyes’ spiralling bomb was left to bounce by Aekins and Luke Briscoe presenting the onrushing Lachlan Walmsley with a simple chance to double his tally for the afternoon. Keyes was successful from the tee to bring it back to 36-10 but the hosts side weren’t finished.
Connor Jones scored a typically opportunistic try as he pounced on a Johnathon Ford chip over the top which was spilled by Woodburn-Hall, who was otherwise faultless. The mistake didn’t stay in his head long however, as the Jamaican International powered his was over after great link up play from Keyes who converted to bring it back to 42-16.
Gareth Gale finished off the scoring for the hosts before Fax had the last word.
Woodburn-Hall grabbing his second from a planned scrum move, racing 60m away to score a mere consolation score before the hooter, Keyes converted to bring some respectability to the scoreboard but ultimately a disappointing defeat for the Panthers on the road.
Aekins, Briscoe, Hankinson, Hardcastle, Gale, Ford, Dean, Lockwood, Wildie, Springer, Day, Taylor, Cozza
Subs: Jones, Kopczak, Yei, Bussey
Tries: Hankinson (6), Springer (9), Wildie (24), Aekins (33,47), Dean (54), Jones (66), Gale (75)
Goals: Hankinson 7/8
Penalty: Hankinson 1/1
Sin Bin: Yei (35)
Woodburn-Hall, Walmsley, Maizen, McComb, Saltonstall, Jouffret, Keyes, Larroyer, Moore, Fairbank, Kavanagh, King, Tangata
Subs: Wood, Calcott, Murray, Gee
Tries: Walmsley (36,58), Woodburn-Hall (71,79)
Goals: Keyes 3/4