Keyes makes club history as Halifax Panthers beat Workington

Joe Keyes wrote his name into the history books after helping Halifax Panthers to a 58-10 victory over Workington Town, writes Seb Sternik.

By Mark Berry
Monday, 18th July 2022, 8:21 am
Updated Monday, 18th July 2022, 8:23 am

Despite the sizeable advantage, the hosts will not be pleased with their overall performance after spending the opening 30 minutes defending their own try line against the team currently bottom of the Championship table.

Nevertheless, Simon Grix’s side were able to turn on the style in the second half and secured their 13th victory in 14 games to further improve their play-off position.

There may have been 24 points separating both teams ahead of kick off, but that gulf in class was certainly not visible in the opening exchanges.

Star man Joe Keyes scores during the win over Workington. Pic: Simon Hall

Workington piled on the pressure from the very get go and threatened an early breakthrough following a successful 40/20. The set culminated with Evan Simons’ grubber kick which proved too fast for the incoming Alex Clegg.

Fax countered the early burst from Town by going up the other end and getting on the scoreboard through Joe Keyes.

With eight minutes on the clock, Ed Barber was able to find Lachlan Walmsley down the left wing, who released Keyes with an unconventional off-load. That, however, was as good as it got for the Panthers for a considerable amount of time.

Workington were able to shake off that early score and quickly went about chasing points of their own. Curtis Teare came close on the 17th minute mark, but with the player just one meter away from the tryline, he dropped the ball in the tackle.

Moments later, the Panthers conceded four successive penalties, with Conor Fitzsimmons eventually taking full advantage as he powered over the whitewash and secured Workington’s first try in over 180 minutes of Championship rugby.

With half-an-hour gone, Halifax eventually kicked into gear and immediately went over through Matt Garside, who forced his way through Workington’s defence.

Two further efforts quickly followed as Barber and Joe Arundel gave the Panthers a 22-6 lead and ensured the half-time talk from Grix wasn’t too vigorous.

Whatever the Fax head coach said, it certainly forced a reaction from Halifax who started the second-half with far more intent than the first.

Keyes was in the thick of the action as he crossed the whitewash twice in a space of four minutes to complete his hat-trick.

With 52 minutes on the clock, it was Jacob Fairbank who added his name to a growing scoresheet after punishing the visitors for conceding a penalty deep in their own half.

Despite the Panthers turning on the style, the atmosphere at The Shay turned sombre as Walmsley went down to a head injury after his diving effort in the corner was thwarted by a last-gasp defensive effort from Thomas.

After a short delay, the tries simply kept on coming for the hosts as James Saltonstall and Joe Arundel pulled Fax further ahead.

With five minutes remaining, Keyes made history as his try and subsequent conversion moved his individual points total to 34 – the most points scored by a Halifax player in a single game.

Workington ended the match with an effort from Clegg in the left corner, but overall, the day belonged to the Panthers who strengthened their position in the table.

Halifax Panthers: James Woodburn-Hall, Lachlan Walmsley, Zack McComb, Joe Arundel, James Saltonstall, Louis Jouffret, Joe Keyes, Will Calcott, Brandon Moore, Nathan Mason, Ed Barber, Matty Garside, Matty Gee. Subs: Kyle Wood, Jacob Fairbank, Kevin Larroyer, Fenton Rogers.

Workington Town: Oscar Thomas, Alex Young, Joseph Brown, Curtis Teare, Alex Clegg, Matthew Henson, Ciaran Walker, Jack Bibby, Evan Simons, Jordan Thomson, Conor Fitzsimmons, Caine Barnes, Jamie Doran. Subs: Connor Davies, Marcus O’Brien, Steven Scholey, John Hutchings.

Halifax Tries: Keyes (8, 44, 48, 75), Garside (31), Barber (35), Arundel (40, 68), Fairbank (52), Saltonstall (62). Halifax Goals: Keyes 9/10

Workington Tries: Fitzsimmons (22), Clegg (80). Workington Goals: Thomas 1/2

Half-time: Halifax 22-6 Workington

Attendance: 1,469 (58)

Match Official: Michael Smaill