Fax show second half steel to clinch victory at Keighley

Luke Ambler
Luke Ambler

Halifax breathed some much-needed new life into their Championship challenge with a crucial 28-14 win at neighbours Keighley.

Karl Harrison’s side, under the cosh after last week’s last-gasp loss at Dewsbury left them on the periphery of the battle for a top two place, withstood enormous second half pressure from their hosts before closing the game out with late tries from Luke Ambler and Paul Mennell.

Fax had found themselves under fire in the opening minutes of the game after the former England winger Peter Fox lost the ball with his very first carry for his new club.

But the visitors repelled their hosts comfortably enough before making their presence felt at the other end of the field with the first try of the game.

Back rower Ross Divorty was the scorer, twisting and turning his way over from close range after good short passes from captain Scott Murrell and prop Luke Ambler.

Steve Tyrer converted for a 6-0 lead and although Keighley again put together an ultimately fruitless spell of pressure, it was the visitors who doubled their advantage when Ryan Fieldhouse romped clear after half back Ben Johnston put him into space.

Tyrer was again on target for a 12-0 lead, but that was halved just after the half hour when Jode Sheriffe wriggled through a determined defence to open his side’s account, Danny Jones - another one of the nine former Fax players in the Cougars side - adding the conversion.

Fax had the better of the closing minutes of the half, Murrell perhaps unfortunate to be called back by the referee for an alleged knock on after dancing through the line 40 metres out.

The visitors made a perfect start to the second period, Dane Manning skating over the whitewash after a long break from on-loan winger Tommy Saxton, who played his last game before his return to Featherstone.

Tyrer missed the conversion and the Cougars playing down the slope and with the breeze behind them, dominated the next half hour.

They scored twice, through former Fax centre James Haley and hooker James Feather, but critically Jones missed both kicks to leave the game poised at 16-14.

Harrison’s side then produced a classic sucker punch; Ambler charging over with 10 minutes remaining after a tremendous tackle from Callum Casey set up the position and Tyrer landing a pressure kick from wide on the left, before Paul Mennell skipped clear in the closing minutes to clinch victory.

Keighley: Jesse Sheriffe; Barnett, Lawton, Haley, White; Jones, Handforth; Shickell, Feather, Hesketh, Lynam, Rawlins, Lindsay. Subs: Jode Sheriffe, Sagar, Cherryholme, Haigh

Halifax: Fieldhouse; Fox, Manning, Tyrer, Saxton; Murrell, Johnston; Tonks, Kaye, Ambler, Bracek, Divorty, Adamson. Subs: Mennell, Davies, Casey, Spencer

Referee: C. Kendall