Fax grind out derby success to maintain winning run

Ryan Fieldhouse
Ryan Fieldhouse

Halifax maintained their 100 per cent record in the Championship with a 30-20 derby success over Keighley that was more comfortable than the scoreline suggests.

Karl Harrison’s side were never behind against their local rivals, leading 14-12 at the break and 30-12 with 15 minutes remaining, although the Shay boss admitted it had been a “frustrating day at the office”.

Fax, spearheaded by impressive full back Ryan Fieldhouse, made light work of generating forward momentum on a heavy pitch, but struggled to convert that superiority into points.

They had made a flawless start, scoring after only three minutes when the impressive Scott Murrell carved a hole in the defence and sent Ross Divorty over with an inside pass.

Steve Tyrer kicked the conversion for a 6-0 lead, but that lasted just six minutes, the Cougars scoring through the former Fax prop Sean Hesketh on their first real foray downfield.

Scott Leatherbarrow kicked the conversion to level at 6-6, but Fax were over again when Ben Heaton scored on the quarter hour.

There was nothing on when the centre scooped up a misdirected pass 20 metres out, but he cut back inside, beat a couple of defenders and accelerated away to the line.

Tyrer surprisingly missed what looked a simple kick to leave Fax leading 10-6.

Fax were showing plenty of ambition with the ball, and Craig Ashall almost scored from Paul Handforth’s kick as the half hour mark approached.

And they did cross when Handforth produced a gem of a short pass for Fieldhouse, who romped away to the try line.

Tyrer missed again, this time from even closer to the posts, a miss that looked potentially more costly when Keighley scored again just before half time.

Fax winger Rob Worrincy opted to push up into the line, Danny Jones spotted him and rolled the ball in behind for Paul White to touchdown, Leatherbarrow kicking a perfect conversion to leave the Cougars trailing just 14-12 at the break.

Fax spent the early minutes of the second half pounding the Keighley line - Anthony Thackeray going particularly close - but it took a simple bash-and-barge dummy half surge from Dane Manning to put them 18-12 ahead, Handforth faring no better with the boot than Tyrer had done before the interval.

Gradually though, their sheer weight of possession began to wear Keighley down, allowing Thackeray to dance under the posts, Handforth converting for a 24-12 scoreline.

That looked decisive, and when Handforth teed up Craig Ashall with 15 minutes remaining, the result was certainly beyond doubt at 30-12.

White then scored a second, Leatherbarrow almost missing the conversion from in front, to leave his side in bonus point territory at 30-18.

There was brief fracas on the final whistle, after which Keighley elected to kick the subsequent penalty to cut their deficit to 10-points.

Halifax: Fieldhouse; Worrincy, Tyrer, Heaton, Sheriffe; Handforth, Thackeray; Ambler, C. Ashall, Bracek, Robinson, Divorty, Murrell. Subs: Tonks, Manning, K. Ashall, Casey

Keighley: Jones; White, Barnett, Williams, Duffy; March, Leatherbarrow; Shickell, Feather, Hesketh, Chandler, Martin, Emmitt. Subs: Sheriffe, Smith, Law, Sagar

Referee: Jamie Leahy