Skipton 20 Halifax 29
Halifax put one over former coach Mark Walton in an engaging Yorkshire Four clash at Skipton.
Halifax had the better of the early exchanges and it took the home team 10 minutes to enter the Halifax half. However, from that point they began to dominate and showed a greater desire.
Dropped balls, ill-advised attempts at off-loading and missed tackles put the Halifax defence under heavy pressure and the opposing middle backs began to run strongly to considerable effect.
After winning several rucks and spreading the ball wide in both directions, Skipton opened the scoring with an unconverted try on the right.
The Halifax reply was swift as outstanding left wing Jack Ryan put in a driving tackle on the catcher resulting in an attacking lineout on the Skipton right. The ball went right and back where second rower Luke Sturman was on hand to score in the corner. Gallagher improved that with a magnificent conversion.
Within five minutes Skipton were handed two tries from unforced errors. Full back Fox was heroic in his unsuccessful effort to contain a powerful opposition centre setting up the second such converted try as the home side opened up a 17-7 lead. Fox, however, had some revenge when, after he was tackled late, Halifax drove the resultant lineout over for Tony Curtis to be credited with the score. Gallagher’s conversion attempt from wide out hit the post.
A Skipton penalty for a high tackle saw them take a 20-12 lead into the break.
The second half was a different story as the visitors assumed control.
Sturman stole a Skipton throw and Giles Hetherington put the ball into touch well in the home half.
Possession was maintained and the ball travelled down the line for Ryan to register a fine try. Captain Richard Cole calmly put the ball between the posts to make it a competitive 20-19 deficit.
Hetherington began to orchestrate affairs with some impressive touch finders and Skipton were pinned in their own half.
A keenly-contested physical game saw two Halifax players receive yellow cards for technical offences. That burden was eased by the red card dismissal of an effective home player for a head butt.
Halifax were dominating but time was running out.They finally gained the lead with a nicely taken penalty goal.
From then it was all Halifax and the clinching try came with eight minutes to go when Maxwell picked up at the back of a scrum and drove into the narrow side.
He made ground with Mercer in support and Ryan was on hand again to finish it, Cole nailing the conversion.
Skipton tried to storm the visitors line in the dying moments during which the visitors conceded six penalties. However, the defence held firm and Halifax returned with bonus points in the bag.
Halifax Dukes also travelled to Skipton and suffered a 35-22 defeat in an entertaining game.
The match was played in a fine spirit by both sides and the enjoyment was enhanced by the calm and efficient presence of experienced official Sid Matthews.