Halifax’s hopes of a place in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup disappeared as they were given a lesson in chance taking by hosts Sheffield Eagles, who beat them 28-12 tonight.
Fax had plenty of possession but struggled to find a way through tough Sheffield defence after the home side had gone into an early two-try lead.
Key playmaker Scott Murrell was a shock absentee from the Halifax line up with a hamstring problem and winger Rikki Sheriffe lost his battle to recover from a calf strain.
Paul Handford switched to stand-off with Craig Ashall coming in at hooker. Sam Barlow and Rob Worrincy were back to face their former club.
Sheffield recalled Colton Roche for Salford Reds on loan forward Ben Gledhill, who was unavailable.
Indiscipline set up the opening try for Sheffield on three minutes with Wayne Reitte conceding a penalty in front of the posts for talking back.
The ball was switched to the Eagles left with Andrew Henderson passing to Michael Knowles, whose offload sent fullback Quentin Laulu-Togagae sweeping through a gap. Dominic Brambani added the goal.
The restart was kicked directed out and the Eagles kept up the pressure. This time the play was switched to the right with Brambani and Laulu-Togagae sending in centre Tom Armstrong at the corner.
Fax came back with Tony Tonks putting in a couple good drives but kicks by Anthony Thacheray and Paul Handforth were easily mopped up by the Eagles.
Sheffield were being pushed back but again a penalty gave them possession and only strong line defence kept out bustling centre Menzie Yere.
A Ben Heaton run set up position with Dane Manning held up as he tried to force his way over from dummy half on the last tackle.
Halifax dominated the final 20 minutes of the half but poor handling and rushed decisions cost them at critical moments.
Steve Tyrer got Fax’s first points with penalty for a high tackle in the final seconds of half to cut Sheffield’s lead to 10-2.
Fax had a scare after the restart as a high cross-field kick seemed to get lost in the Don Valley gloom before bouncing dead.
Punches were thrown and Eagles captain Mitch Stringer was spoken to by referee Ben Thaler but from the penalty Halifax again failed to take advantage.
Fax’s problems mounted as a break and short pass by former Fax half-back Brambani sent Laulu-Togagae racing 60 metres to touch down under the posts. Brambani added the goal.
With the final 20 minutes approaching Luke Ambler was held up over the line but Fax were gifted back the ball and Thackeray’s long pass sent Worrincy in at the corner. Tyrer’s kick hit the upright but went over to give Fax hope.
Worrincy had options inside him after a break down the line but went on his own, tried a dummy and was tackled.
Instantly Eagles settled the game, Alex Szostak making a break and sending winger Scott Turner over wide out. Brambani added the goal.
Callum Casey went over for a consolation try from Thackeray’s pass but in the final minute Yere dived on Brambani’s grubber kick and the half-back kicked his fourth goal.
Sheffield: Laulu-Togagae; Morrison, Yere, Armstrong, Taulapapa; Walker, Brambani; Battye, Henderson, Stringer, Knowles, Straugheir, Hirst. Subs: Davey, Szostak, Garside, Roche.
Halifax: Fieldhouse; Worrincy, Tyrer, Heaton, Reittie; Handforth, Thackeray; Tonks, Craig Ashall, Ambler, Manning, Divorty, Bracek. Subs: Paterson, Karl Ashall, Barlow, Casey.
Referee: Ben Thaler.