Halifax Panthers 14 Newcastle Thunder 12: In-form Halifax maintain push

Halifax Panthers extended their winning run to nine games following a dramatic 14-12 victory over Newcastle Thunder at the Shay.

Sunday, 8th August 2021, 8:44 pm
Updated Sunday, 8th August 2021, 9:32 pm
Halifax Panthers held on to beat Newcastle (Picture: Simon Hall)

The Panthers scored all three of their tries in the opening half and looked to be heading for a comfortable win. However, a second-half response from Newcastle saw them close the gap to just two points.

Despite the late drama, Halifax held out for the victory which keeps them third in the Championship table.

Halifax head coach, Simon Grix, didn’t think the scoreline reflected how the game went saying: “I thought we dominated every part of the game. We moved the ball very well. Second half we didn’t have a good ball set, I can’t put my finger on why to be honest.

“We did a lot of damage in the first half which I thought should have paid dividends points wise in the second half.

“We did enough to win which we’ve been doing for a while now. Happy to take the points but I’ve got to say, I thought Newcastle were very good.”

Halifax got off to a good start and created dangerous opportunities in the opening exchanges. Despite this, the hosts were made to wait until the 20 th minute before opening the scoring.

The Panthers were pushed back onto their own tryline as Newcastle threatened for the first time in the game. Nevertheless, the Fax defence kept the door shut and went on the front foot themselves straight after the turnover.

Quick play through the middle by Scott Grix and Ben Kavanagh allowed Greg Worthington to gain more metres down the left side. Zack McComb ran in-support and was able to dive over in the corner after receiving the pass from his teammate.

Liam Harris was unable to convert despite a valiant effort from the touchline.

Moments later Halifax extended their lead. Debutant Ben Tibbs scored just three minutes after coming off the bench, finishing off a well worked move down the right wing.

Harris stepped up to take the kick but again couldn’t find the mark from the touchline.

As the half went on, it was Fax piling on the pressure. In the 35 th minute, Scott Grix produced a dangerous grubber kick which was forced out by Newcastle’s Alex Clegg.

The following goal line drop out allowed Halifax to get back on the front foot and just two minutes later, they had their third try of the game.

Curtis Davies was the scorer after powering his way over the whitewash from dummy half. Ed Barber took over the kicking duties however his attempt went wide.

The Panthers were forced to make a couple of changes before the second-half with James Saltonstall moving to full-back and Scott Grix operating in the halves.

The hosts might have been 12-0 up but the momentum began to switch as Adam Tanganta was sent to the sin-bin for a late challenge.

Just two minutes after the yellow card, Newcastle opened their account with Jack Johnson going over in the corner.

The hosts created a bit of breathing room when Barber kicked a goal but that certainly didn’t discourage Thunder from attempting an almighty comeback.

With 72 minutes on the clock, Ed Chapelhow bagged Newcastle’s second effort after crashing over next to the posts. Matty Wright added the extras to make it 14-12 with just seven minutes remaining.

Fortunately for Fax, the hosts were able to avoid a late collapse as they held on for their ninth successive league victory.