Halifax Panthers 46 Whitehaven 24: How Fax scored six tries in last sensational 22 minutes

Halifax Panthers produced a spectacular second-half comeback to seal an emphatic 46-24 victory over Whitehaven.

By Sebastian Sternik
Sunday, 3rd April 2022, 5:25 pm
Joe Keyes was the architect behind Halifax Panthers' 46-24 Betfred Championship win over visitors Whitehaven. Picture: Halifax RL.
Joe Keyes was the architect behind Halifax Panthers' 46-24 Betfred Championship win over visitors Whitehaven. Picture: Halifax RL.

Simon Grix’s side found themselves 14 points behind at the interval, but scored six tries in the last 22-minutes to bag their second successive Championship victory.

The win will come as major relief for the hosts who looked down and out at the halfway mark. What’s more, the two points take Fax up to ninth in the table and give the Panthers a fresh wave of momentum ahead of a big Easter derby against Bradford Bulls, who edged out hosts London Broncos 8-6 on Sunday afternoon.

Whitehaven were missing seven players ahead of their trip to Halifax owing to injuries, suspensions and other pre-arranged commitments.

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Despite their issues, the Cumbrian outfit came out fighting from the very get-go and opened the scoring in the eighth minute. With Haven just five metres away from the tryline, Karl Dixon released Ryan King through a gaping gap in the Panthers’ defence as the visitors moved in front. Connor Holliday added the extras with a successful conversion.

Halifax, who came into the game fresh from a morale-boosting win over Workington, were quick to reply as Joe Keyes produced a moment of brilliance.

The scrum-half picked up the ball 25 metres out and dummied his way through Haven’s defence before touching down in the corner. Keyes then produced a touchline conversion to level the scores.

The Panthers made the most of their new-found momentum as Joe Arundel stamped his name on the scoresheet.

Keyes was once again the architect as his dummy got the better of King before finding Cory Aston with an offload. A flurry of passes down the left found the hands of Arundel who finished the move in the corner.

With 20 minutes on the clock, Whitehaven began to battle as Nikau Williams levelled the score with his first of the game.

Eight minutes later, it was the turn of David Eccleston to get over the whitewash as he intercepted Aston’s pass and ran 90 metres before crashing over.

The situation was becoming desperate for the hosts, but there was simply no let-up from Haven who were over again three minutes later.

Keyes’ kick on the last tackle bounced free for Holliday who was able to release Williams quickly. The scrum-half picked up possession 35 metres out and powered over the whitewash to move his side 24-10 ahead.

The Halifax crowd made their feelings clear with a chorus of boos at half-time, but they quickly got behind their side at the restart.

The Panthers needed a quick try but, for the next 18 minutes, they were denied by a great display of scramble defence from the visitors.

Despite their best efforts, the dam eventually broke as Ben Kavanagh forced his way over in 58th minute. Keyes found the conversion and, just four minutes later, he was back at the forefront of Fax’s attack.

With the hosts pushing for another score, Keyes picked up the ball 10 metres away from the Whitehaven tryline and dummied his way over. Another successful conversion cut the deficit to two points.

Halifax could sense blood and they were on the hunt for more points. Titus Gwaze did just that as he hit a solid line between two defenders before crossing the whitewash. Another Keyes conversion gave the hosts a four-point cushion.

With 10 minutes remaining, Ed Barber, Lachlan Walmsley and Brandon Moore added their names to the scoresheet to complete a sensational turnaround.

Halifax Panthers: James Woodburn-Hall, James Saltonstall, Zack McComb, Joe Arundel, Lachlan Walmsley, Cory Aston, Joe Keyes, Kevin Larroyer, Brandon Moore, Dan Murray, Ben Kavanagh, Sam Hewitt, Adam Tangata. Subs: Kyle Wood, Titus Gwaze, Jacob Fairbank, Ed Barber.

Whitehaven: Geronimo Doyle, Andrew Bulman, Will Evans, David Eccleston, Josh Martin, Karl Dixon, Nikau Williams, Liam McAvoy, George Roby, Jake Bradley, Ryan King, Connor Holliday, Dion Aiye. Subs: Andrew Dawson, Kieran Hudson, Callum Phillips.

Match Official: Nick Bennett.

Half-time: Halifax 10-14 Whitehaven.

Attendance: 1,413.