Fax better, but not good enough to down Eagles

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Halifax’s ambitions of stretching their lead at the top of the Championship ended in disappointment as they lost 31-12 to reigning champions Sheffield at Bramall Lane.

It was Fax’s second league loss of the season and their fourth defeat in five matches in all competitions, although the Shay outfit remain at the top of the ladder by a single point.

But if the result was disappointing, the performance was sharp enough to suggest that Karl Harrison’s side are on their way back to form after a distinctly lean month.

The visitors started strongly, certainly by the standards of recent weeks, with returning skipper Scott Murrell making his presence felt with a couple of early touchfinders.

They got the reward their play deserved on eight minutes, Craig Ashall - restored to loose forward - taking a Tony Tonks offload to score under the posts.

Lee Paterson kicked the conversion for a 6-0 lead and the visitors were unfortunate not to double that when centre Ben Heaton ran on to Anthony Thackeray’s kick, only to be pulled back for what must have been a marginal offside decision.

Within five minutes Sheffield were level, a brace of errors from Rob Worrincy piling the pressure on Fax and prop Eddie Battye plunging over from point blank range for a try that Dominic Brambani converted.

A freakish bounce of a kick four minutes later then led to a try for Sheffield stand off Pat Walker and a lonely walk to the dugout for Worrincy, Wayne Reittie taking over on the flank.

Trailing 12-6, Fax slipped a little further behind to a Brambani penalty six minutes before the break.

They had a gilt-edged chance to cut the deficit on the stroke of half time when Thackeray and Sam Barlow put Ashall into space, but Brambani produced a perfectly-judged ball steal to deny the visitors virtually on the goalline.

Fax made the perfect start to the second period when Ashall hacked the ball ahead after a Barlow offload and full back Ryan Fieldhouse pounced for the try, Paterson cutting the deficit to 14-12 with the kick.

The Eagles hit back with a classy finish from the ever-dangerous Quentin Laulu-Togagae, who slipped over from a Ben Gledhill offload.

Brambani kicked the Eagles 20-12 ahead, with Worrincy promptly returning to the action with 27 minutes remaining.

But Fax’s problems out wide continued, Paterson spilling a kick straight into the arms of Duane Straugheir, who dived in for Sheffield’s fourth try.

Brambani put the kick wide for a 24-12 scoreline, but even at that stage it looked a long way back for the visitors.

A super try from Menzie Yere effectively won the game for the Eagles with 13 minutes to go, Brambani kicking the conversion for a decisive-looking 30-12.

A barging score from Barlow, goaled by Paterson, put Fax in bonus point territory with nine minutes remaining, a reward that was eventually denied by a Brambani drop goal four minutes from time.

Sheffield: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Yere, Armstrong, Taulapapa; Walker, Brambani; Battye, Henderson, Stringer, Knowles, Straugheir, Hirst. Subs: Davey, Szostak, Garside, Gledhill

Halifax: Fieldhouse; Worrincy, Heaton, Casey, Paterson; Murrell, Thackeray; Tonks, Handforth, Ambler, Manning, Divorty, C. Ashall. Subs: Reittie, Bracek, K. Ashall, Barlow

Referee: Matthew Thomason