Title holders Fax are shocked by Dewsbury

Paul Handforth
Paul Handforth

Halifax, Northern Rail Cup winners in 2012, bowed out of this year’s competition at the first hurdle with a nerve-shredding 20-18 loss at Dewsbury.

Karl Harrison’s injury-hit side were rarely at their best and were trailing 16-12 in the second half when a daring attack from behind their own line looked to have resulted in a second try of the night to Callum Casey.

But referee George Stokes, who appeared to forget the new ‘free play’ rule at one stage of the game, refered the decision to the video official and the score was ruled out for an illegal challenge by Dane Manning.

The Rams were awarded a penalty, which young stand off Bobbie Goulding converted, before adding another later in the game as the home side opened up a match-winning lead.

Fax threw themselves a lifeline three minutes from time when Wayne Reittie slid in at the corner and Paul Handforth converted, but the clock ran out on their bid to snatch victory.

Earlier, the first quarter had been a drab affair, punctuated by a series of errors from both sides, but it was the Rams who finally broke the deadlock, the prop Ryan Hepworth barging over from close range.

Half back Goulding kicked the conversion for a 6-0 lead and, with Fax looking uncharacteristically chaotic, they were denied twice more by the video referee.

Halifax-born hooker Adam O’Brien, on dual registration from Bradford Bulls, went close from dummy half, before centre Brad Watkinson was denied, apparently because the ball had bounced dead from a Goulding kick before he got his hands to it.

Fax gradually began to turn the screw though, Sam Barlow losing the ball as he lunged for the whitewash.

And they finally cracked their hosts almost on the stroke of half time, the impressive Casey finishing off well after a nice short pass from Anthony Thackeray.

Steve Tyrer kicked the conversion for a 6-6 stalemate at the break, and the sides traded tries early in the second period.

Handforth touched down for Fax after a horrendous error from Watkinson, before Scott Hale grabbed one back for Dewsbury after a dropped ball from Rob Worrincy.

Tyrer was successful with the kick while Goulding sent his wide, leaving Fax 12-10 ahead.

A close range try from veteran forward Tommy Gallagher put Dewsbury ahead again at 16-12, but the turning point came when Casey’s second score was ruled out.

Dewsbury: Pryce; Morton, Hale, Watkinson, Scott; Hyde, Goulding; Nash, O’Brien, Hepworth, Olbison, Walshaw, Brown. Subs: Aizue, Wright, Gallagher, Cosgrove

Halifax: Fieldhouse; Worrincy, Tyrer, Heaton, Reittie; Handforth, Thackeray; Tonks, C. Ashall, Ambler, Manning, Divorty, Bracek. Subs: Paterson, K. Ashall, Barlow, Casey