Whitehaven 12 Halifax Panthers 24: Second-half display gets Fax back to winning ways

Halifax Panthers produced a scintillating second-half comeback as they returned to winning ways with 24-12 victory in Whitehaven.

By Sebastian Sternik
Sunday, 12th June 2022, 9:28 pm
Lachlan Walmsley celebrated his birthday with a try in Halifax Panthers' Betfred Championship win at Whitehaven. Picture: Paul Currie/SWpix.com.
Lachlan Walmsley celebrated his birthday with a try in Halifax Panthers' Betfred Championship win at Whitehaven. Picture: Paul Currie/SWpix.com.

Fax were staring down the barrel of a second-successive league defeat when Haven powered to a 12-6 lead at half-time.

However, three converted Panthers tries after the restart allowed the Yorkshire outfit to draw a major sigh of relief as they sealed the 24-12 win.

Playing away in Cumbria is never a straightforward task, and that certainly proved to be the case for Halifax who were determined to bounce back from a 36-0 hammering at Leigh a week prior.

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The defeat against the Centurions snapped Fax’s eight-match winning run – one which had propelled Simon Grix’s side into play-off contention.

Whitehaven, in contrast, have spent the majority of the season fighting towards the lower end of the table, with the side still looking to secure their Championship status for next season.

Halifax, who lost on their previous visit to the LEL Arena, got to work early as Whitehaven failed to collect the kick off and allowed Brandon Moore to jump on the loose ball.

The visitors took full advantage of the first opportunity as Louis Jouffret and James Woodburn-Hall linked up on the right side before unleashing Ben Tibbs. The centre pounced through a gap in Whitehaven’s defence before crashing over from close range.

Fax’s advantage didn’t last long as the visitors hit back with a try of their own just six minutes later. Tom Walker was held up under the sticks, but as the official wiped the tackle count for an infringement, Haven ultimately got over through Andrew Dawson. A successful conversion from Nikau Williams levelled the scores.

With quarter-of-an-hour gone, the highly unpredictable Cumbrian weather turned sour. The rainy conditions began to have an impact on proceedings as errors began to creep in.

One error which proved particularly costly was caused by Fax as Keyes ran into Whitehaven’s defence on the last tackle. The turnover in possession paid dividends for the hosts as Ryan King forced his way over from close range. Another successful conversion from Williams moved Haven 12-6 ahead.

Halifax, who have already come back from half-time deficits on two previous occasions this season, seemed determined to cut their losses after the restart.

The Panthers certainly didn’t waste time as Keyes unleashed Ben Kavanagh with a delayed pass just six minutes into the second-half. The forward burst through the defence and found James Woodburn-Hall in support, who finished the move by sliding over the whitewash. Keyes slotted over his second kick to level the match 12-12.

Just 10 minutes later, Fax were in again as Lachlan Walmsley – who was celebrating his 24th birthday – dived over in the corner against his former club.

Moments later, Dan Murray extended the lead with Fax’s third try in a space of 15 minutes. That proved to be the final score on a successful away outing for the Panthers.

Next up for the Yorkshire outfit is another trip to Cumbria as they take on sixth-placed Barrow in a much-anticipated Championship clash.

Halifax Panthers: James Woodburn-Hall, Lachlan Walmsley, Greg Worthington, Ben Tibbs, James Saltonstall, Louis Jouffret, Joe Keyes, Will Calcott, Brandon Moore, Dan Murray, Ben Kavanagh, Matty Gee, Adam Tangata. Subs: Jacob Fairbank, Ed Barber, Joe Martin, Kevin Larroyer.

Whitehaven: Davey Litten, Andrew Bulman, Will Evans, Marcus Walker, Dave Eccleston, Karl Dixon, Nikau Williams, Andrew Dawson, Jacob Hookem, Tom Walker, Ryan King, Perry Singleton, Tom Wilkinson. Subs: Liam Cooper, Dion Aiye, Jake Bradley, Cain Robb.

Match Official: Mike Smaill.