Fax’s Cup toil goes unrewarded as attacking class tells

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Halifax turned in a courageous Challenge Cup performance at Wakefield but faded late in the game on their way to an eventual 44-16 defeat against James Webster’s Super League strugglers.

Richard Marshall’s visitors led 6-4 early in the game, were level at 10-10 just before the break and trailed by a tantalising 18-16 in the second half.

But in the end, Wakefield’s class with the ball - with playmakers Tim Smith, Danny Washbrook, Jacob Miller and Paul McShane looking sharp all night - told as the Wildcats pulled inexorably clear late in the game.

The visitors had started well, forcing a couple of early errors and full back James Saltonstall firing what could have been a scoring ball way over the head of winger Alex Brown.

Breaks from Mitch Cahalane and Saltonstall put Wakefield on the back foot again, but when the ball went loose it took a great chase from Gareth Potts to hunt down a runaway Chris Riley.

But when Wakefield started to move the ball, they caused damage immediately; Richard Owen speeding over in the right corner.

Craig Hall missed the conversion and Fax hit back strongly, Miller spilling Murrell’s kick on the try line and Saltonstall pouncing for the try.

Murrell added the extras, but Owen was over again soon after as Wakefield started to generate some momentum in possession.

This time Hall did kick the conversion, but again Fax came storming back, building some good attack of their own and centre Ben Heaton underlining his current form with a powerful finish in the right corner.

That levelled the scores at 10-10 and it might have stayed that way until the break if Fax had not been penalised for driving Owen into touch close to half way.

But referee Joe Cobb saw differently and moments later Wakefield replacement Daniel Smith was over next to the posts, Hall making it 16-10.

The full back then added a further two points on the hooter after a flying Adam Tangata saved a try by clobbering Miller, albeit illegally, to leave Wakefield leading 18-10.

Fax made the perfect start to the second half; Riley dropping Murrell’s steepling kick and Potts pouncing on the loose ball and haring over against his former club, Murrell converting for an 18-16 scoreline.

But the good work was undone when Andy Bracek lost possession from the restart and Ali Lauititi, always a massive attacking talent, put Riley over in the corner, Hall’s conversion drifiting wide to leave Wakefield leading 22-16.

Breaks from Alex Brown and Ryan Maneely showcased Fax’s attacking threat, but the difference in cutting edge was again illustrated when Hall beat three defenders out of nothing for a try that put Wakefield 28-16 up.

Late tries from Washbrook and Ian Kirke - twice - confirmed Wakefield’s superiority and did scant justice to Fax’s determination.

Wakefield: Hall; Owen, Ryan, Arundel, Riley; Miller, T. Smith; Scruton, McShane, Simon, Lauititi, Kirmond, Washbrook. Subs: D. Smith, Molloy, Kirke, Trout

Halifax: Saltonstall; Brown, Heaton, Sheriffe, Potts; Taylor, Murrell; Cahalane, Kaye, Ambler, Divorty, Manning, Moore. Subs: Tangata, Bracek, Maneely, Spencer

Referee: Joe Cobb