Halifax got back to winning ways in Yorkshire Four with a 16-8 win at Knaresborough, helped by 12 points from the boot of the returning Toby Turner, who contributed a conversion, two penalties and a drop goal.
On a cold, wet and miserable day, handling errors were always going to be a problem but both teams set about the game in a committed and entertaining way.
Halifax had undergone some enforced changes while Knaresborough have had a disappointing season but they have a determined pack who tried hard to make progress, as did their threequarters who at times handled well but without penetration.
Halifax defended very well in both those areas, matching Knaresborough up front and knocking them down “outside”. The centre field combination of Dwayne West and Gareth Matthews ran a very tight ship.
After 10 minutes Halifax beat their opponents at their own game as Luke Sturman won a lineout and the Halifax pack, aided by some three quarters as they closed in, drove fully 20 metres, enabling Iain Morris to touch down. Turner added the goal points.
Soon after good scrum ball set the Halifax backs free well within their own half and Academy player Elliott Hoyle was able to penetrate deep into the Knaresborough half.
This began a period of Halifax pressure which culminated in Turner improving the lead with a nicely taken penalty for offside.
Halifax had enjoyed territorial advantage in the first half but Knaresborough maintained hope as they took benefit from a Halifax ruck offence to make the half time score 10—3.
Knaresborough made changes which forced Halifax to be more vigilant around the fringes of the scrums and rucks but the visitors continued to enjoy good possession and territory although they were made to work hard for it.
On 59 minutes, Turner dropped a goal to leave Knaresborough requiring two scores to win.
The Knaresborough pitch drops away towards the right and Halifax exploited that as they pounded the opposition line although Knaresborough defended well.
Hooker Cameron Aitchison, Sturman, Morris and Tony Curtis all went close.
With fives minutes to go, Turner hosted a huge, enterprising kick to the left corner but Knaresborough had been drawn offside and Turner made the game entirely safe with the penalty.
Knaresborough, to their credit, battled to the end and were rewarded at the death as their forwards drove over from close in.
Halifax Vandals’ game in the same division was postponed when visitors Marist were unable to raise a team.