Fax go third after first half blitz is too much for Batley

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Halifax moved up to third in the Championship, a point shy of second-placed Toulouse, with a solid 32-18 win at Batley.

Richard Marshall’s side did the damage in the first half, opening up a 22-0 lead as they poured forward down Mount Pleasant’s famous slope.

The Bulldogs predictably rallied after the break, but Matt Diskin’s side never got closer than 10 points as the visitors held on for a crucial win.

Fax had been dominant from almost the first play of the opening half and opened the scoring after six minutes, Chester Butler hitting Scott Murrell’s short pass and rounding the full back on his way to the corner.

Steve Tyrer’s conversion drifted wide to leave the game poised at 4-0, but the visitors were soon in again, Ben Johnston stepping through the line and accelerating away to score, Tyrer’s conversion making it 10-0.

That became 16-0 when James Woodburn-Hall, impressive on his return to the side at full back, found James Saltonstall, who stretched over by the corner flag, Tyrer converting.

Saltonstall then broke clear before spoiling his good work with a forward pass to Johnston as the visitors missed the chance to add to their tally.

But when Lewis Galbraith tried to shift the ball on Batley’s left he found Ben Heaton, who cantered away to score at the other end, Tyrer making it 22-0.

The Bulldogs should have been reduced to 12 men, at least temporarily, when Pat Walker flattened Murrell late and high and Alex Rowe dropped his knees into Ed Barber; both offences punished with on report decisions and a penalty.

And the visitors blotted an excellent half right on the hooter, Tyrer dropping the ball in front of his own posts and Joel Farrell touching down on the final play of the half.

Walker’s conversion narrowed Batley’s deficit to 22-6 with the slope to come and when Farrell opened the second half as he had finished the first, Walker converting, the gap was down to 22-12.

A Heaton try, set up brilliantly by Butler and converted by Tyrer, nudged Fax out to 28-12, but a James Harrison try, converted by Walker, kept Batley in the contest at 28-18.

A crucial intervention by Heaton, stopping a Walker 40/20, helped stem the home side’s momentum, with a late Tyrer touchdown giving Fax some breathing space in the final minutes.

Batley: I. Farrell; Scott, Smeaton, Galbraith, Crookes; Walker, Sowerby; Gledhill, Leak, Holland, Harrison, Farrell, Day. Subs: Ward, Rowe, Butterworth, Bretherton

Halifax: Woodburn-Hall; Saltonstall, Tyrer, Barber, Heaton; Murrell, Johnston; Fleming, Kaye, Morris, Butler, Grady, Fairbank. Subs: Moore, Tangata, Green, Maher

Referee: J. McMullen