Carbon copy as Fax win again

Halifax 44

Toulouse 28

For Toulouse, read York.

Seven days after scoring 76 and leaking 38 against the relegation-haunted City Knights, Fax turned in a copycat performance to dispose of a weakened Toulouse side.

Again, Fax started slowly, trailing 12-4 early in the piece.

Again, they scored virtually at will once they managed to control the football for more than two or three tackles at a time, which frankly wasn’t that often.

Again, they lacked the kind of defensive punch that characterised their charge to the Northern Rail Cup final.

And, again, they finally made off with three precious Co-operative Championship points that, combined with Barrow’s finally confirmed six point deduction, puts them firmly in the play off places.

All in all then, mission accomplished, but with precious little promise of being able to say the same at title chasing Batley next weekend unless they can find a substantial improvement in form, especially when the opposition have the ball.

The French side, who, if rumours are to be believed, won’t even be still in the Championship next season, battled with toughness and flair for much of a generally unsatisfactory spectacle before being finally distanced inside the last quarter.

Fax started solidly enough, and were in front with only four minutes on the clock, teenage stand off Anthony Bowman cutting through on the right.

Danny Jones’ conversion hit the post for a 4-0 scoreline, and when Paul White needed every inch of his natural speed to chase down opposite number Gregory White a couple of minutes later, it was clear the French were not here for a holiday.

And, with errors proliferating from both sides, they finally made it onto the scoreboard in the 12th minute, the centre Bruno Ormeno pouncing on a Darren Nicholls grubber kick.

Nicholls, the Australian stand off who tortured Fax in France in the spring, banged over the conversion and then added another converted try himself - sailing through a yawning hole in the home defence - to give Toulouse a 12-4 lead going into the second quarter.

Predictably, when Fax retained possession for any length of time at all, they looked dangerous.

And when replacement Makali Aizue stormed 25 metres, skittling defenders out of his way, with his first touch of the ball, Fax profited immediately, Sean Penkywicz’s kick being grounded expertly, and with inches to spare, by Jones.

Jones hammered over the kick from under the posts, and might have been lining up another attempt almost immediately had Penkywicz’s flat pass close to the Toulouse line been just a little higher off the ground.

As it was, Fax had to wait until the 31st minute to go in front, Rob Worrincy running across the field from a kick return and providing the pass that created an overlap on the right.

Jon Goddard was the beneficiary, cutting through from inside his own half, but the centre’s finish was what really caught the eye, taking on his former Hull KR teammate Damien Couturier on the outside and having the pace to cross in the corner.

Jones whacked over the kick from the sideline, and Fax pushed their lead out to 22-12 four minutes before the break, Penkywicz and Aizue wreaking havoc down the middle again and the Papua New Guinea international slipping a peach of a pass to supporting full back Miles Greenwood.

Jones’ boot provided the 10-point buffer, and it was already clear that Fax had the attacking firepower to win the game.

Question marks remained over their solidity at the other end of the field, and it took a super tackle from Ryan Clayton in the second minute of the second period to stop Ormeno from adding his second score.

The gate stayed open though, and on 44 minutes Nicholls stepped his way through it, scoring his second try of the game on the last tackle of the set.

The same player inexplicably missed what should have been an easy kick to preserve Fax’s six-point buffer at 22-16, and when Toulouse lost possession as they attempted to clear their own half, Fax punished them.

Penkywicz did the damage with a virtual slow motion burst out of dummy half and Joe Chandler applied the finish, diving over to the left of the posts.

Jones made it 28-16, but the errors continued to flow with frustrating regularity, and Toulouse’s White finished off some neat passing in the right hand corner.

Nicholls kicked the goal off the touchline for 28-22, and although Penkywicz got the home side back on the front foot immediately with a 40/20 down the right side, the set ended in disaster: Jones booming out a long ball and Tony Gigot swooping for a near length of the field intercept.

Nicholls levelled at 28-28 as the contest descended into near farce, neither side being able to complete a set without producing a schoolboy error.

It was Fax who finally found the scoring touch again, when Clayton managed to free his arms in a tackle and send White haring over in the left corner.

Jones missed the kick, but the elastic finally snapped when Jones burst clear down the middle and gave Paul Smith the chance to apply a determined finish.

Jones set up a 38-28 lead with 15 minutes remaining with the kick, and Fax should have been further in front immediately, the increasingly eccentric match officials calling Miles Greenwood back for a forward pass after he had burst clear straight from the kick off.

And the home side saved one of the best till last, Penkywicz chipping the ball over the line straight from a tap on half way and White showing speed and all his natural finishing instinct to regather and race away to the posts, Jones converting.