Halifax 50 Oldham 10
MATT Calland had said he wanted an across the board improvement on his side’s distinctly dodgy opening day victory at Swinton ahead of this second Northern Rail Cup fixture.
And Halifax duly delivered their title-winning coach’s wish, defying the less than ideal conditions with a six-try second half blitz that left Championship One neighbours Oldham, impressive winners over Hunslet seven days earlier, in tatters.
Calland was probably less impressed at the break, when his side led just 14-6 after an opening half hour that had been a virtual carbon-copy of their performance at the Willows.
They started with style and purpose, and led 10-0 in as many minutes, but shot themselves in the foot repeatedly thereafter, with only Rob Worrincy’s touchdown giving them breathing space against an Oldham side who had looked there for the taking.
After the restart it was a different story, perhaps even a different book entirely, as the Co-operative Championship winners - who made a handful of changes to the side that saw off the Lions - cut loose.
The second period was only seconds old when Papua New Guinea prop Makali Aizue rampaged over the line from Sean Penkywicz’s flat pass and centre Lee Paterson kicked the goal for a 20-6 lead.
And when Aizue steamrollered clear again within a minute, Australian half back Ben Black was on hand to dart over straight from the play the ball, allowing Paterson to effectively end any semblance of a contest at 26-6.
Trialist full back Ryan Fieldhouse - whose form was arguably the biggest positive of the whole afternoon - and Penkywicz then teed up the consistently impressive Sam Barlow, Paterson kicking Fax into a 32-6 lead.
Barlow then blotted his copybook, although how seriously remains to be determined, with a shuddering late challenge on Valu Bentley.
That left the Oldham loose forward in need of medical attention and referee Jamie Leahy, who was overly-fussy even by his own standards for most of the game without ever really clamping down on the Roughyeds’ understandable fondess for trying to slow Fax down at the play the ball, putting the collision on report.
Stand off Danny Jones, who is beginning to look more like the player who shone so brightly for Keighley last season, then dummied his way through for the first try of his second spell with his hometown club, Paterson’s conversion stretching the gap to 38-6.
Lucas Onyango, the winger who had scored the Roughyeds sole first half try, then went over again, before Black’s speed and trickery set up a second for Barlow and vice captain Jim Gannon showed brains as well as brawn to force the ball down in stoppage time.
With Paterson off the field with an ankle injury, Jones glossed the final scoreline with a brace of routine conversions.
Earlier, Fax had nearly been in front inside three minutes, Barlow being held just short of the whitewash on the right.
The breakthrough wasn’t long in coming, Gannon setting up Michael Ostick - whose return, alongside Aizue and Frank Watene, gave Fax a more heavyweight look in keeping with the conditions - with a short pass and the former Widnes player doing the rest.
Jones sent in the hard-working Stephen Bannister soon after, only for Leahy to chalk the score off for a forward pass, before the same player was over the line again, but was held up by desperate Oldham defence.
But from the ensuing possession, Black ran across the face of the Oldham line, sniffed out a gap in trademark style and cut through for his side’s second score.
At 10-0, Fax were on a roll, but handling errors - coupled with the 17th-minute departure of the desperately unlucky Mike Ratu with a suspected broken arm - broke their stride and it was Oldham who scored next, Onyango sliding in after some neat build up play.
A week ago, Fax had compounded their errors at the same stage, allowing Swinton back into the game.
Yesterday, they were in less generous mood, Fieldhouse firing a neat pass out to Worrincy, who sped over in the right hand corner.
At 14-6 with half an hour gone, Fax looked likely to get on with the job.
But their own mistakes and Oldham’s tenacity limited them to just one more chance before half time, Worrincy being dragged into touch by the cover after Barlow and Australian Dylan Nash, making his first start of the year, had opened the gap.
Whatever Calland said at half time had the desired effect though as Fax buried their visitors in the minutes after the restart.