Halifax made a winning start to the most important Championship season since promotion to Super League was scrapped at the end of 2007 with a comfortable 28-18 home win over Swinton.
Karl Harrison’s side dominated their visitors for long spells of a contest played on a gluepot of a pitch, without ever really managing to transfer that superiority to the scoreboard ahead of next weekend’s altogether tougher trip to Featherstone.
The major plus points were a mighty stint from the prop Tony Tonks and the attacking threat provided by the young half back Ben Johnston, who scored one try and generally gave the Lions defence a nightmare afternoon.
The negatives were the two late tries conceded to Swinton hooker Andy Ackers, both of which smacked of a defence that had clocked off, thinking their job was already done.
Neither side exactly sprinted out of the blocks at the start, but the home side certainly dominated field position and possession from the off, with Simon Brown’s kicking game keeping the Lions under pressure inside their own half.
And that pressure eventually told on the 10 minute mark, Lions’ player coach Ian Watson spearing a huge pass out to his left in an attempt to engineer a long range escape but finding only Brown, who plucked the ball out of the air and cantered over the line from 15 metres out.
Centre Steve Tyrer landed the goal from the sideline and was lining up another successful - but more straightforward - attempt a minute later after Brown’s half back partner Ben Johnston danced through the defence to score by the posts.
That left Fax leading 12-0 and they continued to have their visitors in a stranglehold which should have yielded another try when Johnston put Luke Adamson clean through, but the back rower held on with the half back in support.
The home side eventually got the try their play merited when Wayne Reittie galloped on to Brown’s kick through and grounded the ball inches before it rolled dead.
Tyrer again provided the conversion as Fax went 18-0 ahead.
Swinton had never looked like scoring as half time approached, but when Kevin Penny slipped through the line deep in his own half he demonstrated his remarkable speed as he skinned Ryan Fieldhouse and Gareth Potts in a footrace downfield.
Mick Nanyn converted from under the posts and the Lions were somehow only trailing 18-6 as the sides headed for the dressing rooms.
Fax gave themselves breathing space soon after the restart, Reittie finishing with typical force in the left corner after Johnston and full back Ryan Fieldhouse had carved out the chance.
Tyrer missed the conversion, but was successful soon after when Adam Robinson charged on to Paul Mennell’s kick to score by the posts.
That left the score at 28-6 and Fax made enough chances to add significantly to that tally, only to be thwarted by their own indifferent finishing.
Ackers then popped up a couple of times in the last five minutes, devaluing what was a solid afternoon’s work.
Halifax: Fieldhouse; Reittie, Tyrer, Heaton, Potts; Brown, Johnston; Tonks, Kaye, Bracek, Casey, Adamson, Murrell. Subs: Mennell, Robinson, Davies, Divorty
Swinton: Burke; Penny, Evans, Nanyn, Worthington; Fishwick, Watson; Menzies, Ackers, Cooper, Watkins, Hawkyard, Barlow. Subs: Bowman, Morrison, Johnson, Brown
Referee: Joe Cobb (Leigh)