Fax stay top of the league after derby win at Keighley

Paul Handforth
Paul Handforth
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Keighley 16 Halifax 30

HALIFAX maintained their lead at the summit of the Co-operative Championship with a comprehensive win over their local rivals.

Karl Harrison’s side, who led 6-4 at the interval before running away with the game in the second half, now lead defending champions Featherstone by a point, although third-placed Leigh can join them on 25 points if they win their game in hand.

In front of a sizeable travelling support, Fax scored five tries, all of them converted by centre Lee Paterson, in conditions that were a far cry from the last time these two sides met, at a rain-soaked Shay on Good Friday.

The visitors, who never really looked in trouble, were on top from the start and took a 10th-minute lead through the impressive loose forward Sam Barlow, who stormed over from a slick pass from stand off Paul Handforth.

They should have extended their lead within seconds; captain Sean Penkywicz – who was passed fit to play after hamstring trouble – slicing through with support left and right, only to be called back for what must have been a marginal forward pass.

Keighley threatened rarely, but Sam Obst’s break might have got them on a scoreboard as quarter time approached, only for his pass to Paul March to end up on the floor.

The home side eventually touched down on the half hour, centre James Haythornthwaite scoring in the corner after some skilled but speculative approach play.

But with Cougars stand off Danny Jones registering the first of four misses with the boot, it was the Fax who deservedly went to the break in front.

With the ground’s slight slope in their favour after the break, the visitors turned on the style in the third quarter, scoring three tries to effectively put the result beyond doubt.

Penkywicz got the first with a trademark scoot from close range, before full back Ryan Fieldhouse, another player who had been rated as doubtful because of an ankle problem, touched down twice in three minutes.

Fieldhouse’s first was a direct finish from a super disguised pass from Handforth, but the second was something special as Penkywicz, Craig Ashall, Handforth and the rampaging Barlow tore Keighley to shreds down the middle of the field.

That pushed the score out to 24-4, and although Keighley player-coach Jason Demetriou slid over in the corner to close the gap to 24-8, Paterson’s 65th-minute try – the centre running a great line on to a great pass from Anthony Thackeray straight from a scrum – kept Fax comfortably ahead.

Fax might have added to their tally, with Barlow being called back for a forward pass and Fieldhouse going within inches of a hat-trick score.

As it was, it was Keighley who gained some consolation through two Richie Barnett tries, but with Jones have a rare horror day with the boot they were unable to salvage even a bonus point.

Keighley: Craig Moss; Richie Barnett, James Haythornthwaite, Danny Lawton, Jessjo Sheriffe; Danny Jones, Sam Obst; Jode Sheriffe, James Feather, Michael Korkidas, Ollie Pursglove, Jamie Shepherd, Paul March. Subs: Jy-mel Coleman, Jason Demetriou, Brendon Rawlins, Andy Shickell.

Halifax: Ryan Fieldhouse; Rob Worrincy, Lee Paterson, James Haley, Paul White; Paul Handforth, Anthony Thackeray; Luke Ambler, Sean Penkywicz, Sean Hesketh, Dane Manning, Ross Divorty, Sam Barlow. Subs: Craig Ashall, Jim Gannon, Adam Robinson, Makali Aizue

Referee: Clint Sharrad

Attendance: 1,723