Super 8s Qualifiers: Fax go down fighting against star-studded Wolves
Halifax slipped to a third successive loss in the Super 8s Qualifiers, but only after a terrific against-the-odds effort at last season's Super League Grand Finalists Warrington saw the Wolves edge home 22-8.
Richard Marshall’s part time side, missing several key players, held their hosts to 4-4 at the break and trailed just 10-8 until the 65th minute, when Matty Russell finally gave the home side some breathing space.
Young winger Chester Butler, recalled in place of the injured Ben Heaton, scored two tries in a terrific team effort that bristled with determination from start to finish.
The Wolves looked predictably the more dangerous team from the start, but the Fax defence was equal to the challenge; typified by a two man tackle from James Saltonstall, impressive at full back in place of the suspended Will Sharp, and Steve Tyrer that hammered Russell short of the line.
The Wolves finally made it over the whitewash at the start of the second quarter, centre Peta Hiku twisting out of a couple of tackles to score.
Declan Patton’s kick went wide to leave the score at 4-0 but far from going away, Fax came more and more into the game, forcing back to back drop outs around the half hour and resisting everything thrown at them in defence.
And with a minute to go to the break, they finally got the reward they deserved.
The excellent Simon Grix slipped a stabbing kick towards the right corner and Butler stormed past Tom Lineham and inside Stefan Ratchford to regather and score.
Tyrer’s kick went wide, but at 4-4 at the break Fax had exceeded expectations, probably even their own.
The anticipated Warrington surge materialised after the break, with six minutes on the clock when captain Chris Hill surged over the line to score, Patton’s conversion making it 10-4.
Fax stuck to their task with real determination and when Saltonstall flicked a looping pass to Butler, the winger shrugged off Lineham to score his second of the game.
Tyrer’s conversion drifted wide again to leave the score at 10-8 and Fax were very much in the game until Russell took a Kevin Brown cross kick and had just enough power to force his way over in the corner.
Patton missed again, but when 14-8 became 16-8 following a penalty 12 minutes from time, the gap started to look insurmountable.
The Wolves did score again to seal the win, Andre Savelio forcing his way over and Patton converting in the final minute, but it wasn’t enough to take the shine off a fine Fax performance.
Warrington: Ratchford; Russell, Hiku, Atkins, Lineham; Patton, Brown; Hill, Smith, Sims, Jullien, Hughes, Westwood. Subs: King, Savelio, Philbin, Dwyer
Halifax: Saltonstall; Butler, Woodburn-Hall, Tyrer, Worrincy; Murrell, Johnston; Morris, Kaye, Fairbank, Grady, Barber, Grix. Subs: Mammone, Sio, Moore, Boyle
Referee: Robert Hicks