Fax left hanging on as Town fight back to threaten shock

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Halifax survived a late, and largely unexpected, scare to beat bottom of the table Workington 36-32 in an end to end Championship contest at the Shay.

Richard Marshall’s side led 36-16 going into the last 10 minutes, with the game seemingly in the bag, but ended up hanging on as their Cumbrian visitors, relatively toothless for most of the game, grabbed three late tries to move within one score with a minute left to play.

Halifax had stormed out of the blocks, scoring two classy early tries; Sam Smeaton scoring on the right before Dane Manning romped over on the left, with Steve Tyrer’s conversions putting them 12-0 ahead after eight minutes.

Town replied with two scores of their own, both against Halifax’s problematic right side defence, with Chris Murphy and Jason Mossop crossing and Carl Forber kicking a solitary conversion for a 12-10 scoreline after 15 minutes.

There was a length stoppage while Halifax prop Mitch Cahalane was treated, and ultimately stretchered from the field, with what appeared to be a neck injury, but it was the home side who dealt with the break in play better.

Gareth Moore slipped Tyrer a peach of a pass to score on the left, the centre converting, before replacement forward Gavin Bennion rumbled in, Tyrer’s kick putting Halifax 24-10 ahead.

Captain Scott Murrell then put them 30-10 up at the break, kicking a booming 40/20 and then dummying his way under the posts for Tyrer to convert.

The second half began with a Workington try, the back rower Jarrad Stack scoring five minutes after the restart and Forber narrowing the deficit to 30-16 with the conversion.

Halifax spent the next 10 minutes under pressure, but hit back when winger James Saltonstall pounced on Murrell’s grubber kick and Tyrer converted from touch for a 36-16 lead.

With Town enjoying a glut of late possession, they scored twice more, through Perry Whiteley and the excellent Jarrad Stack, Forber converting both, before a last minute Graeme Mattinson try set up a surprising grandstand finish.

Halifax: Johnston; Sharp, Smeaton, Tyrer, Saltonstall; G. Moore, Murrell; Cahalane, Kaye, Ambler, Manning, Tangata, Fairbank. Subs: R. Moore, Bennion, Barber, B. Moore

Workington: J. Murphy; C. Murphy, Hulme, Mossop, Carter; Forber, Doran; Walker, Mattinson, Shackley, Phillips, Whiteley, Gee. Subs: Stack, McAvoy, Phillips, Szostak

Referee: A. Sweet