Halifax 54 Barrow 24
Halifax eased themselves into the semi finals of the Northern Rail Cup with a hot-and-cold win over Championship One high flyers Barrow.
That Karl Harrison’s Championship leaders would win this game was never really in doubt.
Even when the Raiders briefly led 12-10 as the half hour approached, Fax had already demonstrated they had far too much attacking firepower for their visitors, whose line up bore little resemblance to the side that was relegated from the second tier last autumn.
Harrison’s team led 22-12 at the interval and looked much sharper in the second 40 minutes than they had in the first, scoring six tries to book a last-four trip to Sheffield without ever consistently finding their best form.
Fax had begun briskly, taking an eighth-minute lead through a rampaging touchdown from the in-form forward Sam Barlow.
And when half back Anthony Thackeray danced over on 14 minutes, Lee Paterson adding the conversion, a slaughter looked on the cards.
That never materialised partly through Barrow’s impressive determination and partly through Fax’s own approach, that became frustratingly casual during the second quarter of the game.
That paved the way for the Raiders to score two quick tries of their own, from the dangerous loose forward Dan Toal and the replacement forward Ryan Duffy, with centre Ryan Shaw kicking them 12-10 up on the 25 minute mark.
The scoreline hardly reflected the game at that stage, and when Paterson finished smartly on the left and hooker Sean Penkywicz sent the superb Adam Robinson bundling over the line, the home side went to the break with a 10-point buffer.
Harrison’s half time tete-a-tete certainly had an impact; Fax scoring three minutes in through Thackeray after Paul Handforth and James Haley had combined down the right.
Handforth, who became more influential as the game went on, then put Robinson over with a short pass and looked to have created another score for Craig Ashall almost immediately, only for the loose forward to be pulled back for a forward pass.
At that stage Fax led 34-12, but back to back tries from Toal and winger Mike Backhouse – the second a high quality effort down the Barrow right – briefly closed the gap to two scores at 34-24.
Fax’s reaction was to simply increase the tempo of the match, Penkywicz diving in from half a metre out almost immediately and the home attack looking more and more potent as the game entered the final quarter.
That was born out on the scoreboard as Fax finally began to finish some of their line breaks, with three scores in the last 10 minutes.
Full back Ryan Fieldhouse was involved in all three; scoring the first after a tremendous charge down the middle from Robinson, before racing clear from a great ball from Luke Ambler and putting the substitute Anthony Bowman over.
The former BARLA skipper then backed up Sean Hesketh’s charging run before sending winger Rob Worrincy over for the final try of the afternoon.
Halifax: Fieldhouse; Worrincy, Paterson, Haley, White; Handforth, Thackeray; S. Barlow, Penkywicz, Ambler, Manning, Robinson, Ashall. Subs: Bowman, J. Barlow, Hesketh, Gannon
Tries: Fieldhouse, Worrincy, Paterson, Thackeray (2), S. Barlow, Robinson (2), Bowman
Goals: Paterson (7)
Barrow: Haney; Backhouse, Shaw, J. Finch, Nixon; Kaighan, Campbell; Bracek, Dandy, McCoff, Harrison, Brennan, Toal. Subs: Marwood, L. Finch, Duffy, Dawson
Tries: Toal (2), Backhouse, Duffy
Goals: Shaw (4)
Referee: George Stokes