James Saltonstall was the star of the show as his 4 tries and all round performance helped Halifax Panthers leapfrog their opponents Batley Bulldogs into 3rd spot with a comprehensive 34-18 victory in front of the Premier Sports cameras at The Shay.
The Panthers wasted no time in looking to avenge their defeat to the Bulldogs in the opening round of the season, racing away to an early lead.
With just over 5 minutes on the clock, hometown hero Saltonstall grabbed his first of the evening from a brilliant cut out ball from dummy half by Louis Jouffret. Joe Keyes converted from wide out and was on target again after Fax went back to back to make it 12-0 after just 10 minutes. A fantastic offload from Ben Kavanagh set Lachlan Walmsley free on the left, the Scottish International was caught but the ball was swiftly moved to the opposite flank where Saltonstall finished for his 2nd try in as many minutes.
The Bulldogs showed they wouldn’t roll over and they struck back quickly as Johnny Campbell squeezed in at the corner, ex Fax halfback Tom Gilmore converted from the touchline and at 12-6, it was game on.
It was nip and tuck for the next 10 minutes but Saltonstall completed his hattrick after James Woodburn-Hall danced through the defence off a Fax scrum, the fullback could have finished himself but instead laid it on a plate for his winger. 16-6 with Keyes missing the conversion, the next score would prove crucial.
It went the way of the Panthers, Jouffret’s long lofted pass found Joe Arundel who neatly stepped his opposite number to score on the right flank. This time Keyes was successful with the boot and it looked to be game over at 22-6. Batley managed a penalty on the hooter through Gilmore to bring it back to 22-8 but Fax had a 3 score lead they never looked like losing.
There was a worrying sight just after half time as James Woodburn-Hall limped off with what looked like a hamstring injury. But the ever reliable Saltonstall slotted into fullback and soon scored his 4th of the night 15 minutes into the second half, finishing off a well worked training ground move which must have had Simon Grix grinning from ear to ear. Keyes converted for 28-8 and it was essentially game over.
Batley managed a consolation with Campbell grabbing his second following a six again penalty but it was another hometown hero who would cancel it out minutes later.
Will Calcott grabbed his first try of the season with a popular score, powering over from close range less than 10 minutes from time. Another Keyes conversion made it 34-12 and an eye catching win.
The action wasn’t over though as Campbell managed to get himself sent off, his handoff to Jouffret inexplicably turning into a flurry of punches leaving referee Scott Mikalauskas no option but to brandish the red card.
The yellow card was coming out of his pocket just before the final hooter, this time for Saltonstall after a professional foul on the tryline. An injury time Luke Hooley try and Gilmore conversion gave the Bulldogs the last word but the night belonged to James Saltonstall and the Halifax Panthers, 34-18 victors.
Woodburn-Hall, Walmsley, Worthington, Arundel, Saltonstall, Jouffret, Keyes, Calcott, Moore, Murray, Kavanagh, Barber, Tangata
Subs: Wood, Morris, Fairbank, Larroyer
Tries: Saltonstall (8, 10, 27, 54), Arundel (33), Calcott (71)
Goals: Keyes 5/6
Sin Bin: Saltonstall (79)
Hooley, Whiteley, Hodson, Buchanan, Campbell, White, Gilmore, Gledhill, Kaye, Reilly, Manning, Walshaw, Flynn
Subs: Meadows, Leak, Ward, Brown
Tries: Campbell (19, 59), Hooley (80)
Goals: Gilmore 2/3
Penalty Gilmore 1/1
Sent Off: Campbell (78)
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