Halifax’s second pre-season outing ended with an eminently forgettable 23-10 defeat at Dewsbury’s Rams Stadium.
Fax, a few fleeting moments aside, were second best for most of the game against a fired-up home side under the tutelage of new coach Glenn Morrison.
The Rams had too much aggression and too much enthusiasm for Karl Harrison’s Northern Rail Cup champions, who looked a shadow of the side that had won at Keighley on Boxing Day.
A few moments of promise from Rikki Sheriffe, who began on the wing and finished at full back, and the expected industry of prop Luke Ambler and back rowers Ross Divorty and Dane Manning were rare highlights.
Fax started solidly enough, repelling back to back sets on their own line without looking threatened.
And they carved out a couple of half chances at the other end too, Lee Paterson unable to reel in Steve Tyrer’s sharp pass and Tyrer himself just spilling the ball as he dived headlong on to a grubber kick from Anthony Thackeray.
The quality of the visitors’ play deteriorated as the half wore on though, and the Rams eventually took the lead just past the 20 minute mark, prop Ryan Hepworth forcing his way over from point blank range.
Scott Spaven scuffed the conversion, but was on target three minutes later when substitute half back Jy-Mel Coleman forced his way over from a play the ball.
Trailing 10-0, Fax finally made it onto the scoreboard when Tyrer barged over from Thackeray’s pass after Divorty had re-gained possession for his side.
Tyrer missed the kick, and 10-4 became 16-4 on 36 minutes when Sam Barlow’s ill-advised offload was hacked on by Elliott Cosgrove, who won the race for the ball ahead of the back-tracking Thackeray.
Referee Ronnie Laughton was the dominant figure in the opening minutes of the second half, three straight penalties putting Dewsbury on the front foot and Matty Tebb forcing his way over, again from point-blank range, for his side’s fourth try of the afternoon.
Spaven converted to leave Fax trailing 22-4, although the visitors promptly produced their two best attacking sets of the game to give them a foothold in enemy territory.
That opportunity passed when the ball went loose on the right, and by that stage the die for a disappointing afternoon was already cast.
Spaven kicked an unexpected drop goal, emphasising just how important the win was to Dewsbury, before Ambler had a certain try ruled out for a forward pass from Thackeray.
Ben Heaton was sinbinned for preventing a restart as the game crawled into the final quarter, but atoned to some extent on the final play of the match, racing clear to score on the right, Tyrer converting.
Dewsbury: Craven, Morton, Hale, Cosgrove, Beckett; Brown, Spaven; Aizue, Wright, Spiers, Spicer, Hepworth, Tonks. Subs: Tebb, Schofield, Coleman, Scott, Akadiere, Gallagher, Lillycrop
Halifax: Fieldhouse; Sheriffe, Tyrer, Heaton, Paterson; Handforth, Thackeray; Ambler, Craig Ashall, Davies, Manning, Divorty, Robinson. Subs: Karl Ashall, Bracek, Barlow, Casey, Wood, Walker, Holden
Referee: Ronnie Laughton