Late double sees Halifax into next round of the Challenge Cup at Hunslet

Halifax scraped into the next round of the Challenge Cup with a 28-24 win at League 1 Hunslet, with two late scores depriving their hosts of what would have been a deserved upset.

Sunday, 31st March 2019, 5:49 pm
Updated Sunday, 31st March 2019, 5:53 pm

Richard Marshall’s side, in indifferent form so far this season, hit a new low at times here as Gary Thornton’s side opened up an 18-6 lead early in the second half.

But the Championship visitors found enough class and composure to edge home in the last 10 minutes, with tries from forwards Elliot Morris and Liam Cooper.

The visitors opened the scoring on 13 minutes, when prop Ben Kavanagh slipped Jacob Fairbank through the line on half way and the loose forward rounded full back Jimmy Watson before giving half back James Woodburn-Hall, playing in place of the injured Ben Johnston, a clear run to the try line.

Centre Steve Tyrer kicked the conversion from in front for a 6-0 lead but, unfortunately for Fax, that was the high point of the opening half.

There were 23 minutes on the clock and Hunslet had already forced two drop outs when hooker Jack Lee exploited some sloppy marker defence to score on the final tackle from point-blank range, half back Reece Dean adding the conversion to tie the scores at 6-6.

What followed was close to an implosion, with two self-inflicted wounds allowing Hunslet to take command.

First, Fairbank’s pass on half way ended up in the hands of Dean, who scurried away to score and convert.

And when a crazy long ball from James Saltonstall left Shaun Robinson in all kinds of trouble on his own line, former Fax winger Gareth Potts profited as the half time score pushed out to 16-6.

The situation deteriorated for the visitors after the break when Dean’s penalty put Hunslet 18-6 up.

But with captain Scott Murrell moving to hooker and Hunslet’s Nathan Chappell in the sin bin, Halifax suddenly hit something approaching form, with Woodburn-Hall’s kick pounced on by back rower Ed Barber, Tyrer’s conversion reducing the deficit to 18-12.

Murrell then put Quentin Laulu-Togagae, who had moved into stand off, over the line to cut the gap to 18-16 as Tyrer’s kick drifted wide.

Momentum swung back Hunslet’s way with a Dean penalty giving them a 20-16 lead in the final quarter, but with 10 minutes remaining a huge bomb from Reece Chapman-Smith caused havoc in the defence and Morris scooped it up to score.

Tyrer’s kick put Fax ahead at 22-20 with a late try from Cooper, after good play from Fairbank, converted by Tyrer putting them on course for a ragged but crucial victory.

Hunslet had the final say through Chappell, but there was no fairytale ending.

Hunslet: Watson; Potts, Chappell, Ashton, Bloomfield; Sanderson, Dean; Jon Luke Kirby, Lee, Robinson, Tonks, Martin, Emmett. Subs: Braham, Hawksworth, Flynn, Halafihi

Halifax: Laulu-Togagae; Robinson, Tyrer, Saltonstall, Sharp; Murrell, Woodburn-Hall; Kavanagh, Moore, Morris, Barber, Grady, Fairbank. Subs: Fleming, Cooper, Chapman-Smith, Calcott

Referee: B. Pearson