Late drop goal inflicts costly defeat on Fax

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Halifax suffered another setback in their chase for a top four finish in the Championship as they slipped up at Swinton, losing 13-12 at Heywood Road.

Half back Chris Atkin was the hero for the Lions, kicking a drop goal four minutes from the end of normal time to break a 12-12 stalemate.

But Richard Marshall’s side, who missed a gilt edged chance to close the gap on fourth-placed Toulouse after the French side lost at Dewsbury, will look back on two costly errors around the 66th minute, when they led 12-10.

A late challenge on Atkin by Brandon Moore gave the Lions half back a penalty chance, which he managed to steer wide of the posts, only for Fax centre Steve Tyrer’s 20 metre restart to go out on the full, giving Atkin a second opportunity he was never going to waste.

And when back rower Shane Grady put the ball down on the 30 metre line inside the final 10 minutes, Swinton positioned Atkin perfectly for the decisive one point.

Fax threw everything at their hosts in a desperate finale, but Swinton held on for the win.

The visitors had started the game with four Salford players in their side on dual registration; regular Daniel Murray, hooker Josh Wood and forward Jordan Walne, while young winger Connor Williams replaced the dropped Rob Worrincy.

It was Swinton who made the early impression, moving the ball smartly in trademark fashion and the impressive half back Chris Atkin putting young back rower Oliver Davies on course for the corner.

Atkin converted from touch for a 6-0 lead after just three minutes, a lead the Lions kept courtesy of some outstanding defence on their own line, denying first Steve Tyrer and then Ben Johnston when both looked near-certain scorers.

The visitors were hampered further when Johnston limped off with a hip problem, disjointing their attack, although it took another miracle tackle to deny the visitors’ excellent full back Will Sharp after 25 minutes.

Fax had hooker Brandon Moore sin binned after a scuffle at an apparently innocuous play the ball just before the half hour and Swinton took maximum advantage, sweeping the ball left and then right, where winger Shaun Robinson scored in the corner.

Atkin’s kick drifted wide, but the Lions led 10-0 going into the break, leaving Marshall with plenty of work to do in the dressing room.

Fax stormed out of the blocks after the break, Moore redeeming himself with some smart work around the ruck, the hooker finally creating a try for Mitch Cahalane after 53 minutes.

Tyrer converted for a 10-6 scoreline, and when Wood cut back against the defence from Sharp’s pass to score and Tyrer added the conversion, Fax were ahead at 12-10.

But that was just the start of the drama.

Swinton: Murphy; Robinson, Hankinson, Lloyd, Butt; White, Atkin; Bracek, Waterworth, Barnes, Paisley, Davies, Field. Subs: Carberry, Nicholson, Bate, Barlow

Halifax: Sharp; McGrath, Heaton, Tyrer, Williams; Murrell, Johnston; Cahalane, Moore, Murray, Grady, Barber, Grix. Subs: Morris, Walne, Douglas, Wood

Referee: C. Straw