Fax miss out after errors spark late Bradford comeback
Bradford came back from 14 points down to edge a rollercoaster Championship derby against Halifax at the Shay.
John Kear’s side eventually won a breathless contest 33-26, rescuing a game that looked lost when Halifax led 26-12 with 20 minutes to go.
And the home side might have been in the clear if Bulls full back Ethan Ryan had not produced a brilliant piece of defence to stop Ben White inches short as a white-hot derby entered the final quarter.
But a loose pass from Fax half back James Woodburn-Hall opened the door for the visitors, the impressive Elliot Minchella intercepting and racing clear from half way and then converting to cut the deficit to 26-18.
Rowan Milnes then added a penalty to make it 26-20, before prop Steve Crossley rumbled over, Milnes levelling the scores with 10 minutes to go.
Drop-goal specialist Jordan Lilley then popped up to but the Bulls ahead from long range, with a late score from centre Jake Webster sealing the most dramatic of wins.
Earlier, Fax had been in front inside two minutes, ironically after the Bulls had been handed an early chance to attack by Ben Kavanagh’s third tackle knock on.
The visitors whipped the ball right, but Woodburn-Hall pushed up to put the pressure on and ended up with the ball and a 90 metre sprint to the line.
Steve Tyrer converted and Fax dominated the next 10 minutes, although they spurned their clear chance to put points on the board when they opted to run a penalty in front of the posts.
Bradford’s response was immediate, dangerman Ryan showing some exceptional footwork cut back against the grain to score, Minchella levelling the scores at 6-6 with 17 minutes played.
Minchella then added two penalties in quick succession as momentum swung towards the Bulls, but Fax tied things up at 10-10 when back rower Ed Barber produced a moment of magic to create a try for Will Sharp, Tyrer’s kick drifting wide.
Minchella’s third penalty four minutes before half time looked to have given the Bulls the interval lead, but a wicked kick off from Tyrer found touch and winger Shaun Robinson touched down two plays later, Tyrer converting for a 16-12 lead.
Even then there was more drama as David Foggin-Johnston was just nudged into touch as he went for the corner with seconds to go to the break.
The real drama was still to come though.
Halifax: Laulu-Togagae; Sharp, Tyrer, Saltonstall, Robinson; Woodburn-Hall, White; Kavanagh, Moore, Fleming, Larroyer, Barber, Fairbank. Subs: Morris, Davies, Kidd, Calcott
Bradford: Ryan; Grant, Webster, Oakes, Foggin-Johnston; Milnes, Lilley; Kirk, Wildie, Crossley, Storton, Farrell, Minchella. Subs: Green, Bustin, Peltier, Hallas
Referee: Greg Dolan