Doncaster come from nowhere to snatch draw at Fax

Fax get to work in defence

Fax get to work in defence

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Halifax made it an unenviable hat-trick of morale-sapping results in the Championship after they somehow squandered a 28-6 lead to draw 28-28 with Doncaster at the Shay.

Karl Harrison’s side had lost two straight, at Leigh and Barrow, going into the game, while the Dons were on a five-match winning streak.

But when back rowers Callum Casey and Dane Manning touched down in quick succession early in the second half, turning an 18-6 interval advantage into something more decisive at 28-6, it was the home side who looked in complete command.

But a mistake on half way, Casey unable to hold a sharp pass from captain Scott Murrell, created the position from which Doncaster forward Mike Kelly touched down, winger Dave Scott converting.

Inexplicably, that one score triggered a collapse; Fax, so methodical and controlled for 50-plus minutes, lost their heads and control of their opponents.

And while Doncaster’s veteran stand off Paul Cooke’s best days are behind him, he remains one of the most talented footballers of his generation.

The former Hull FC and Hull KR star tormented Fax in that final quarter, constantly probing down the left as first Matty Dawson and then Mike Emmett scored tries that cut the visitors’ deficit to six points.

And then, with Fax utterly incapable of escaping their own half, Cooke popped up on the final play of the match to create and then finish the move that took Tony Miller’s side to within two points.

Scott stepped up to add the easy conversion and Fax were left with a draw that felt every bit as bad as any loss.

Earlier, both sides were efficient rather than spectacular during the first 20 minutes, but Fax drew first blood when Wayne Reittie chased a lost cause after a Paul Handforth bomb bounced towards touch and was rewarded with a try which Handforth converted.

Leading 6-0, Fax doubled their advantage when captain Scott Murrell did the damage down the left flank and Luke Adamson picked Ben Heaton out of a crowd of supporting players for the centre to score.

Handforth kicked the conversion and when Casey produced a sweet short ball for Andy Bracek to score just after the half hour, Handforth again on target, the home side were in total control at 18-0.

A Craig Ashall fumble gave the Dons a rare foothold in the opposition half and Cooke made it count, claiming a try from close range, although there was more than a suspicion of a knock on from Dawson in the build up.

Scott kicked the Dons to 18-6 at the break, but the real drama was to follow in the second half.

Halifax: Fieldhouse; Worrincy, Sheriffe, Heaton, Reittie; Murrell, Handforth; Tonks, c. Ashall, Ambler, Manning, Divorty, Adamson. Subs: Bracek, K. Ashall, Robinson, Casey

Doncaster: Butterfield; Scott, Cowling, Dawson, Tuffour; Cooke, Fawcett; Castle, Emmett, Carbutt, Kelly, Spurr, Robinson. Subs: Kesik, Spiers, Waller, Waterman

Referee: Warren Turley