Hero Potts scores one, saves one as Fax move up to second

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Winger Gareth Potts was the hero as Halifax moved up to second place in the Championship with a nail-biting 20-17 win at North Wales Crusaders.

Potts, who had already made a miraculous try-saving tackle in the first half, pounced for the winner five minutes from time, chasing down a Callum Casey kick to put Karl Harrison’s team ahead for the first and last time in the match.

Fax now leapfrog Featherstone in the race for second and the £450,000 that goes with it ahead of next weekend’s blockbuster between the sides at the Shay (3.0).

The visitors made a horror start, Steve Tyrer hoofing the kick off dead and putting the Crusaders straight onto the attack.

And the home side made Fax pay immediately; centre Greg Wilde cutting through to touch down on the right and full back Tommy Johnson adding the conversion for a 6-0 lead.

With the visitors looking nervous, tense and generally not at the races, it was hardly a surprise when the Crusaders scored again through centre Chrisiaan Roets on the other flank, although Johnson’s missed kick left it at 10-0.

Fax eventually scraped enough momentum together for Ryan Fieldhouse to send Tyrer stretching over, with the centre making it 10-6 with an excellent conversion.

But a tricky kick off, which left Ben Johnston with no chance, got the Welsh on the front foot again and, again, Fax’s goalline defence was paperthin, their former hooker Karl Ashall scoring and Johnson converting for a 16-6 lead.

That was how it stayed until the break, but things might have been a good deal worse if it hadn’t been for a stunning chase back and tackle from winger Potts, who denied the Crusaders what looked a certain try six minutes before half time.

The second period began as the first had; with a kick off error, which fortunately did not prove fatal this time.

The visitors were still struggling to find any real tempo in attack, but they finally cracked the defence when Casey finished with real determination in the corner and Tyrer kicked the conversion for a 16-10 deficit.

Fax still gave the impression of a team hanging on, but an outstanding finish from Luke Ambler, the prop charging through and rounding the full back, allowed Tyrer to level at 16-16 with 20 minutes remaining.

The visitors lost Tommy Saxton to the sin bin as the tension mounted, and Fax fell behind again when Jamie Dallimore’s drop goal put the Welsh side 17-16 up.

But when the home team spilled the ball in the final minutes, Casey kicked long and Potts did the rest.

Halifax: Fieldhouse; Potts, Cowling, Tyrer, Saxton; Murrell, Johnston; Tonks, Kaye, Ambler, Robinson, Divorty, Adamson. Subs: Brooks, Holden, Casey, Spencer

North Wales Crusaders: Johnson; Turner, Wilde, Roets, Massam; Speakman, Dallimore; Martins, K. Ashall, Adamson, Gee, Wild, Middlehurst. Subs: Fildes, Smith, Reid, Duffy

Referee: Tom Crashley