Halifax 30 Sheffield 26
A brilliant late try from Halifax half back Anthony Thackeray snatched a crucial Co-operative Championship victory for Karl Harrison’s side on an afternoon when far more went wrong than right.
The home team trailed 26-24 with normal time all but elapsed, courtesy of a bludgeoning try from in-form prop Luke Ambler, who had forced his way over with three minutes remaining.
But Thackeray and half back Paul Handforth combined superbly, Handforth chipping the ball over the line on half way and then swapping passes with Thackeray for his partner to score to the left of the posts.
Steve Tyrer, who had kicked flawlessly all game, landed the conversion and Fax had somehow won a game they had looked so much like losing.
The Northern Rail Cup winners now trail leaders Featherstone by two points, but crucially have a four point advantage over third-placed Batley with three games remaining.
Fax had made a start that was almost predictably under-powered against opponents who were coming into the game after a fortnight’s rest.
They had a let off after a minute when the ever-threatening Menzie Yere only just lost control of the ball as he stretched out to score one handed.
The Eagles were soon over the line though, winger Vinny Finigan touching down and Simon Brown landing a super conversion from the sideline.
The visitors were dominating possession and territory and scored again on 11 minutes, winger Scott Turner scything through, although Brown’s miss left the score at 10-0.
Another score from Michael Knowles followed, Brown tagging on the extra two, as Fax toiled to a 16-0 deficit.
The home side finally came to life after a moment of magic from former Eagle Rob Worrincy, who dodged past a couple of defenders on his own 20 before romping away to score.
Paul Handforth kicked the conversion while Tyrer was being treated for a knee injury in backplay and the home side were back in the game when leading scorer Thackeray danced over just past quarter time, Tyrer’s conversion closing the gap to 16-12.
Fax needed to consolidate, but they failed; a penalty giving Yere the chance to put Knowles over and Brown adding a penalty on the stroke of half time to leave the Eagles perching on a 22-12 interval advantage.
The home side began the second half briskly, and closed the gap to 22-18 six minutes after the restart when great handling from Tyrer and Ryan Fieldhouse put Paul White over in the left corner, Tyrer again on target from the sideline.
Fax were looking more dangerous now, but their own errors - and some bizarre decision making from referee Chris Leatherbarrow, who infuriated both coaches and the crowd - saw Sheffield extend their lead to 26-18 when Quentin Laulu-Togagae forced his way over on the left.
The tension mounted as the clock ticked down towards full time, with Jim Gannon and Duane Straugheir being sin binned after a flare up with 12 minutes to go.
That seemed to provide the home side with an extra shot of enthusiasm, Ambler setting up the grandstand finish with a try that owed everything to bloody-minded determination.
Halifax: Fieldhouse; Worrincy, Tyrer, Paterson, White; Handforth, Thackeray; Tonks, Penkywicz, Ambler, Manning, Robinson, Gannon. Subs: Bowman, Ashall, Barlow, Aizue
Sheffield: Laulu-Togagae; Finigan, Yere, Taulapapa, Turner; Brown, Brambani; Howieson, Henderson, Stringer, Knowles, Scott, Szostak. Subs: Davey, McDonald, Straugheir, Higgins
Referee: C. Leatherbarrow