Handforth’s magic seals last-play victory

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Halifax 28 Keighley 24

A flash of last minute genius from half back Paul Handforth sent Halifax into the second round of the Co-operative Championship play offs.

Fax were locked at 24-24 against their near-neighbours as the clock ticked down towards golden point extra time when Handforth shaped for a drop-goal 40 metres out.

Instead, he threw a 20 metre pass to his right, picking out half back partner Anthony Thackeray.

Thackeray broke the line and raced clear before sending centre Lee Paterson over in the corner for the matchwinning try.

It was no less than Karl Harrison’s Northern Rail Cup deserved after a contest they dominated for long spells without ever distancing Jason Demetriou’s sixth-placed finishers.

Keighley took the early lead when full back Craig Moss scored after a break down the left from Demetriou, centre Danny Lawton converting.

Fax levelled on 13 minutes, Handforth drawing the defence and giving prop Jim Gannon the chance to show some good footwork, beating Moss on his way to the posts.

Tyrer kicked the conversion and the home side went ahead just before quarter time, Handforth again the architect as another front rower, Makali Aizue, touched down.

Tyrer was on target again and it was Fax who dominated the rest of the half, scoring a third try through Tyrer, who took Handforth’s cross kick out on the left, and opening up a 16-6 lead.

At that stage, it was one way traffic as Harrison’s juggernaut rolled forward relentlessly in midfield.

But, amazingly, Keighley got themselves back in the match just before the break, Demetriou slipping a scoring pass to next season’s coach, Paul March, and Lawton narrowing the gap to 16-12 with the kick.

Keighley then nudged ahead early in the second half when Danny Jones dummied his way over and Lawton gave them a two-point lead with the conversion.

Halifax levelled at 18-18 on 52 minutes with a Tyrer penalty, the fourth in quick succession as Keighley’s discipline deteriorated, and then went 24-18 in front through Sam Barlow’s charging touchdown, Tyrer converting.

But Keighley levelled from point-blank range through James Feather five minutes from time, before Paterson came up with the late winner.

Halifax: Fieldhouse; Worrincy, Paterson, Tyrer, Reittie; Handforth, Thackeray; Ambler, Ashall, Aizue, Casey, Heaton, Gannon. Subs: White, Penkywicz, Barlow, Tonks

Keighley: Moss; Barnett, Sagar, Lawton, Duffy; Jones, Obst; Shickell, Feather, Cherryholme, Pursglove, Rawlins, Demetriou. Subs: Wray, March, Sheriffe, Korkidas

Referee: Jamie Leahy

Attendance: 1,203