Fax go so close against Widnes in Challenge Cup

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Halifax were narrowly denied a place in the last eight of the Challenge Cup after a gutsy 28-18 home loss to Super League side Widnes.

Richard Marshall’s part-time Championship side were level at 18-18 with 17 minutes to go, before two late tries - the second after a pass which drifted clearly forward - denied them the chance of a grandstand finish.

Widnes drew first blood after just five minutes, the half back Aaron Heremaia - playing against the club he signed for, but never played for - dancing over and full back Rhys Hanbury adding the conversion for a 6-0 lead.

The home side’s reply was immediate, whipping the ball across the field and back rower Ben Heaton throwing a cut out pass for winger James Saltonstall, who scored in the corner.

Centre Steve Tyrer added the conversion and the home side had a golden opportunity to go in front when Jacob Fairbank split the line, but held on rather than pass to the unmarked Connor Robinson.

Widnes made Halifax pay for that miss, hooker Lloyd White scoring from close range at the end of three consecutive sets of possession and Hanbury’s boot making it 12-6.

A third try from Australian forward Chris Houston followed on the half hour, Hanbury converting, and the game looked to be drifting out of reach .

But forward Adam Robinson stormed over from a Scott Murrell pass on the final play of the half, Tyrer narrowing the deficit to 18-12 at the break.

They were almost level just after the restart, winger Will Sharp just being pushed into touch as he dived acrobatically for the corner.

And they were level on 47 minutes when Murrell chipped the ball over the line and Miles Greenwood cleaned up a favourable bounce to score under the posts for Tyrer to convert.

They continued to make half chances, Saltonstall and Heaton both breaking the line, but it was Widnes who regained the lead with 17 minutes remaining, centre Charly Runciman finding a way outside Murrell to score in the corner.

Hanbury’s kick drifted inches wide and Halifax, trailing just 22-18, continued to pile on the pressure inside the last 10 minutes.

But Widnes sealed the win with four minutes remaining when Hep Cahill touched down after a build up which featured a loose pass that drifted well forward, Hanbury converting.

Halifax: Greenwood; Sharp, Smeaton, Tyrer, Saltonstall; C. Robinson, Murrell; Bennion, B. Moore, Tangata, Manning, Heaton, Fairbank. Subs: Johnston, Kaye, R. Moore. A. Robinson

Widnes: Hanbury; Thompson, Runciman, Dean, Chamberlain; Mellor, Heremaia; Cahill, White, Dudson, Houston, Sa, Leuluai. Subs: Manuokafoa, Whitley, Chapelhow, Johnstone

Referee: M. Woodhead