Fax slip to Championship defeat on their first trip to Toronto

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Halifax’s barren Championship form continued as they slipped to a predictable 34-12 loss to runaway league leaders Toronto Wolfpack in Canada.

Simon Grix’s side, still missing injured half back Scott Murrell, defended with a vigour and intensity that has been missing in recent weeks and, after trailing 28-0 midway through the second half, gave the scoreline a respectable gloss with two late tries.

But, in a generally untidy contest, they made far too many errors in possession to genuinely put pressure on Brian McDermott’s expensively-assembled team.

On a five game losing streak going into the match - against an apparently Super League-bound Wolfpack side who had only lost twice at the Lamport Stadium in their brief existence - the visitors had travelled focused on an improved performance rather than an unlikely result.

And it took the Wolfpack, who led the Championship by eight points going into the game, 13 minutes to finally open their account, winger Liam Kay scoring in the corner.

Gareth O’Brien’s missed conversions left Fax trailing 4-0 and, in a scrappy opening half hour, the visitors stubbornly resisted falling further behind until Kay found space to add a second just short of the half hour.

O’Brien added the extras for a 10-0 lead which the Wolfpack held until half time, although Fax will have been frustrated at not making more of a temporary numerical advantage after Toronto centre Ricky Leutele was sin binned for pulling back Will Sharp.

The home side extended their lead early in the second half, a loose pass sparking some improvised attack that ended with replacement hooker Andy Ackers scoring from the kick through. O’Brien adding the conversion.

O’Brien, making his 200th career appearance, then added two tries in quick succession, backing up a Joe Mellor break to score the first and then popping up on the end of some second-phase possession to touchdown again.

A brace of conversions pushed the score out to 28-0, with the visitors’ inability to hang on to the ball for any length of time gifting Toronto a consistent attacking foothold.

The visitors finally got some reward for their endeavour when back rower Liam Cooper touched down with 17 minutes to go, Steve Tyrer’s conversion making it 28-6.

And they promptly added a second try two minutes later, Elliot Morris’ break and Scott Grix’s kick paving the way for Tyrer to set up Ben Johnston, Tyrer cutting the gap to 28-12 with the conversion.

Toronto had the last word when the former Bradford forward Tom Olbison touched down, O’Brien converting.

Halifax: Grix, Sharp, Saltonstall, Robinson, Tyrer, QLT, Johnston, Fleming, Kaye, Morris, Cooper, Barber, Larroyer. Subs: Davies, Chapman-Smith, Moore, Kavanagh

Toronto: O’Brien; Kay, Rawsthorne, Leutele, Russell; Mellor, McCrone; Sims, Beswick, Mullally, Dixon, Thompson, Wilkin. Subs: Ackers, Lussick, Springer, Olbison

Referee: M. Mannifield