Grix suffers first reverse as Fax slip up at Mount Pleasant

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Halifax hit their first bump in the road under new coach Simon Grix as they went down to a 24-16 Championship defeat at Batley.

Fax had won four straight since Grix, who had been confirmed as full time coach earlier in the week, replaced Richard Marshall, but they were second best at Mount Pleasant against a hugely energetic Bulldogs outfit.

The visitors, who play Bradford in a Challenge Cup quarter final next Sunday, looked in trouble when the scores were tied 6-6 at the break, with Fax having enjoyed the advantage of both the slope and a howling wind.

And so it proved, with Matt Diskin’s out-playing Grix’s side on their way to a win that was probably more convincing than the scoreboard suggests.

Fax had the better of the first 10 minutes, with some towering kicks from captain Scott Murrell causing problems in the wind for the Bulldogs’ wingers.

But when Batley did get some possession at the other end of the field, they made it count.

Stand off Louis Jouffrey hoisted the ball towards the corner flag and Keenen Tomlinson made the catch and grounded the ball to score.

Jouffrey converted for a 6-0 lead and, with Fax struggling to make any decisive headway against a rock solid Batley defence, it was the home side who nearly added to their lead when hooker Alistair Leak was held up over the line on the 20 minute mark.

But a raking 40/20 kick from Murrell put the visitors back on the front foot and they finally struck a telling blow when full back Scott Grix lofted a pass out to Will Sharp, with the winger crossing unopposed by the flag.

Centre Steve Tyrer kicked a fine conversion off the sideline to tie the scores at 6-6, although Batley should have edged ahead when they were awarded a penalty, only for Jouffret to miss from in front of the posts.

Fax dominated the final 10 minutes of the half, but, despite plenty of territory, they were unable to add to their tally as the stalemate persisted to the break.

With the elements and gravity in their favour though, the Bulldogs took control of proceedings in the early minutes of the second half.

First, Lewis Galbraith touched down from Dominic Brambani’s slick pass and then a crazy pass from Grix gifted Tomlinson a second score for Batley, Jouffrey converting one for a 16-6 lead.

Grix made some amends with a well taken score that allowed Tyrer to cut the deficit to 16-12, but an Adam Gledhill try from close range, converted by Jouffret, saw Batley stretch their lead out to 22-12.

Jouffret added a penalty inside the final 10 minutes, with Sharp’s late, unconverted, try for Fax purely academic.

Batley: Scott; Tomlinson, Galbraith, Wood, Campbell; Jouffret, Brambani; Gledhill, Leak, Everett, Manning, Bretherton, Brown. Subs: Ward, Taira, Butterworth, Bienek.

Halifax: Grix; Sharp, Tyrer, Butler, Robinson; Murrell, White; Fleming, Moore, Tangata, Larroyer, Cooper, Connor Davies. Subs: Curtis Davies, Fairbank, Kirby, Morris

Referee: N. Bennett