Old Grovians 21
HALIFAX’S 14-match unbeaten run, which started with a 13-13 draw between the sides in October, was ended by their promotion rivals.
The Ovenden Park side went into the game on the back of wins over two of the other top sides but it was the hosts who hit the early rucks with most enthusiasm.
Grovians number 10 Anthony Cadman showed his intentions of playing an expansive game and his side were duly rewarded with a penalty for offside which the prolific Adam Weaving kicked.
Halifax weathered the storm, showing the resilience they have built over the last five and a half months. The pack were beginning to make inroads with Martin Smith and Stuart Hill to the fore.
This released the backs up the slope and breaks by Paul Knapping and Elliot Fletcher left them camped on the try line. With the referee playing advantage for a collapsed maul, the ball came loose and Tony Curtis burrowed over, Toby Turner converting.
Two Weaver penalties in the run up to half time, for offside and a tackle offence, made it 9-6 to the home side but following a collapsed maul, Knapping kicked the penalty from near the touchline.
The half time team talk by Craig Emmerson and Nick O’Connor was all about discipline playing down the slope.
However, Grovians came out as if their season hinged on the result and their left winger Aaron McGee showed great pace, beating eight players on a weaving run for a converted try.
Halifax had several more mauls collapsed illegally and the referee finally sin-binned Exley with 20 minutes left.
Fletcher had a couple of breaks and it seemed only be a matter of time before Halifax scored again.
However, Grovians defence was excellent and they held on.
A couple of interceptions proved the turning point and the home side scored the game breaker.
The game was marred a few minutes from the end when a great break down the blindside from Michael Perrett was halted by the winger, who tackled the former captain into touch.
A Grovians lock ran in and threw a punch and after a lengthy brawl between players from both sides, the lock and Perrett were sent off.