Fax impress, but fall just short against champions

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Halifax fell just short of sinking Championship champions Leigh in a Shay mudbath, eventually slipping to an 18-6 defeat.

In appalling conditions, with freezing rain lashing a field that glistened with standing water before a ball was kicked, Fax trailed 12-0 at the break but arguably dominated the second half in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 2,868.

In the end, they were left to rue aspects of their first half performance - with coach Richard Marshall highlighting an indifferent kicking game - as Leigh winger Jonathan Pownall sealed a hard fought victory with a last-minute interception.

“I thought both teams deserved something out of the game,” said Marshall.

“If we’d scored at the end there, I’d have been reasonably happy, but they’re a quality team and they scored from one of the limited opportunities they had in that half.

“I thought the second half we defended really well, but we let them off the hook in the first half.

“Our kicking game wasn’t as good as theirs and our discipline wasn’t as good.”

The opening exchanges were close and predictably physical, although Fax’s error count was higher than Leigh’s.

The irony was that when the visitors took the lead on 16 minutes, they did so from long range.

Alex Brown was caught infield after making a tackle, Sean Penkywicz exploited the short side and Liam Kay chipped, chased and outpaced the cover to score the try.

Martin Ridyard kicked the goal off the soggy sideline and was lining up another successful attempt four minutes late, Kay again finding a way round Brown on the outside to slide in at the corner.

At 12-0, Fax lost prop Mitch Cahalane to the sin bin after a marginally late tackle on pantomime villain Sam Barlow sparked a brief melee.

The home side survived until the break, but with the error count continuing to go in Leigh’s favour, the odds on a second 40 comeback didn’t seem that good.

To their credit though, they turned the tables on their visitors, pinning them back in front of the South Stand for long periods with some ferocious defence.

The introduction of hooker Ryan Maneely sparked their attack in midfield and the former Warrington junior had only been on the field a matter of moments when he scored the try that got Fax back in the contest.

Leigh shot themselves in the foot, throwing two long passes on their own line, the second of which allowed centre Chris Taylor to regather and put Maneely under the posts.

Steve Tyrer kicked the conversion and Fax went on to enjoy their best spell of a compelling afternoon, piling on the pressure as Leigh struggled to escape the quagmire in front of the South Stand.

In the end, it wasn’t enough, with Pownall’s try - as Ben Kaye tried to feed a potentially scoring pass out to Steve Tyrer on the left as Fax went for broke - sealing Leigh’s success.

Halifax: Greenwood; Saltonstall, Tyrer, Taylor, Brown; Murrell, Place; Cahalane, Kaye, Ambler, Manning, Divorty, Bracek. Subs: Moore, Spencer, Maneely, Tangata

Leigh: McNally; Pownall, Worthington, Armstrong, Kay; Ridyard, Brierley; Moimoi, Penkywicz, Walker, Haggerty, Goulden, Emmitt. Subs: Beswick, Wilkes, Barlow, Hopkins

Referee: Matthew Thomason