Fax beat the weather to open four point gap at the top

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Halifax stretched their lead at the top of the Championship with a hard-fought 22-12 win at Whitehaven.

Karl Harrison’s side took advantage of actually being able to play - it was the only match to beat the weather - to open up a four point gap at the top of the ladder going into the Easter programme.

Fax, missing injured prop Luke Ambler and full back Ryan Fieldhouse, didn’t have things all their own way at a sunny but freezing Recreation Ground, but twice scored back-to-back tries to seal an ultimately convincing victory.

The visitors started the game with the wind at their backs, Paul Handforth immediately setting the tone with a booming 40/20.

That was the pattern of the first 20 minutes; Fax attacking, Whitehaven defending.

The visitors eased their way into the home 20 time after time, but lacked the cutting edge needed to slice open an increasingly desperate defence.

They had a try ruled out, Rikki Sheriffe’s pass to Lee Paterson being called forward, while Haven’s only chance of note was a penalty that Jamie Rooney put wide.

Fax finally broke their duck on the half hour, Sam Barlow forcing his way over from close range and Paterson kicking the conversion for a 6-0 lead.

And they scored again immediately, centre Ben Heaton showing great hands to take Scott Murrell’s pass on the left.

Paterson could not add the extras and Haven got the score their resolve probably merited on the final play of the half, Scott McAvoy twisting over on the right and Rooney’s kick making it 10-6 at the break.

The second half was just two minutes old when the home side struck, France prop Sebastien Martins strolling through a yawning gap and Rooney kicked the conversion for a 12-10 lead.

Fax responded with a Craig Ashall break, Murrell forcing a drop out with a short kick.

Ashall was then denied a try, forcing Haven to drop out again, and Anthony Thackeray put Dane Manning over with a perfect short ball for a 16-12 lead with 51 minutes on the clock.

The visitors scored again in short order, Thackeray touching down Ashall’s kick through and Paterson converting for 22-12.

And that was that, Fax throttling the life out of the contest with a series of raking kicks and some cruel defence.

Whitehaven: Thorman; Calvert, Parker, McAvoy, Cameron; Rooney, Paterson; Houghton, Newton, Jackson, Doran, Greenwood, Crellin. Subs: Clarke, Pora, Martins, Ackerley

Halifax: Sheriffe; Worrincy, Heaton, Bowman, Paterson; Handforth, Murrell; Tonks, Thackeray, Bracek, Manning, Casey, Divorty. Subs: Robinson, Barlow, Tyrer, Ashall.

Referee: George Stokes