Fax denied at the death as Hall wins it for Leigh

editorial image

Halifax slipped one place to fourth in the Championship after a late Craig Hall try finally settled a rollercoaster contest at Leigh in favour of the home side.

The scores were tied at 30-30 when Rhys Evans skipped away down the sideline and found Hall on his inside, with Ben Reynolds’ conversion sealing a 36-30 win for the full time outfit.

It was cruel on Richard Marshall’s Halifax, who led 18-6 and then battled back from 30-18 down in a contest that was compelling from start to finish; the sides trading 54 second half points after a 6-6 interval stalemate.

The opening minutes were riddled with errors from both sides, with the game devoid of any real flow until the visitors made one mistake too many - Ben Heaton turning the ball over inside his own half - and Leigh’s Liam Hood lunged over from close range.

Reynolds kicked the conversion for a 6-0 lead that seemed to calm the nerves of the visitors, who improved significantly from that point.

It took them half an hour to make their good work count on the scoreboard, but a strong charge from Chester Butler, operating at centre in place of the suspended Steve Tyrer, paved the way for Scott Murrell to sell a huge dummy and score from the play the ball.

Shane Grady, impressive all game, kicked the conversion for a 6-6 stalemate that persisted until the break, with Fax arguably the happier team at the break as they continued to frustrate their hosts into a string of errors and penalties.

When Leigh did find space, they had played with impressive speed and the question going into the second period was whether Fax could continue to deny them that.

They did initially and seized the early initiative with two quickfire tries; Keiren Moss scoring on his debut after a brilliant inside kick from Murrell and Ben Johnston chasing his own kick to profit from a defensive error.

With Grady converting both, 6-6 had suddenly become an 18-6 lead which Leigh responded to by ramping up the pressure for Jamie Acton to score from Drew Hutchison’s inside ball.

Reynolds converted and when Nick Gregson touched down with 19 minutes remaining, Reynolds locked things up at 18-18.

A speculative offload from James Saltonstall then fell kindly for Hood to score his second, with Gregson making it back to back tries after the visitors’ short kick off backfired badly.

With Reynolds converting both, the game looked over at 30-18, but spectacular tries from Johnston, who raced clear from half way, and Heaton, who soared above Craig Hall to claim Murrell’s kick, allowed Grady to level the scores at 30-30 with a few minutes left to play.

A draw looked a fair result, but Hall and Leigh had other ideas.

Leigh: Owens; Bailey, Crooks, Hall, Evans; Reynolds, Hutchison; Mason, Hood, Acton, Thompson, Gregson. Subs: Mortimer, Ryan Bailey, Richards, Thompson

Halifax: Moss; Saltonstall, Barber, Butler, Heaton; Murrell, Johnston; Fleming, Kaye, Fairbank, Tangata, Grady, Grix. Subs: Morris, Moore, Maher, Green

Referee: S. Mikalauskas