Fax thump Hunslet to go top of the Championship

Luke Ambler
Luke Ambler

Halifax overhauled Featherstone at the top of the Championship with a comprehensive 38-6 dismantling of Hunslet at the Shay.

Coach Karl Harrison, whose side have dropped just a single point in the opening seven rounds, made it clear after last week’s win over Swinton that he wanted his side to post performances, not just results.

And they duly delivered their best display of the season against Barry Eaton’s Hawks, who included five Leeds Rhinos players, dominating in both attack and defence.

It was obvious from their first defensive set that Fax were sharper than they had been against the Lions and they were similarly improved in attack, with some glimpses of real fluency.

With Paul Handforth scheming at hooker and Anthony Thackeray and Scott Murrell looking to move the ball at every opportunity, Hunslet were always under the cosh.

The first couple of attacking moments, from Ben Heaton and Fieldhouse, came to nothing, but the pressure was building and eventually culminated in a scruffy try from Craig Ashall, who took Murrell’s ball and burst through to score by the posts.

Lee Paterson converted, and although Fax continued to turn up the heat, they struggled to claim the reward their play deserved until replacement Sam Barlow barged over by the uprights five minutes before the break.

Paterson kicked them 12-0 ahead and straight from the restart they manufactured a classic touchdown; Barlow and Thackeray ripping Hunslet open down the middle and Ryan Fieldhouse producing a brilliant, confident finish.

Paterson made it 18-0 at the interval, which was the least the home side deserved, but they made amends a minute into the second half when Barlow’s basketball-style overhead pass put Rikki Sheriffe - who started the game on the bench because of a hamstring problem - over in the left corner.

And they bookended that with another spectacular, Thackeray finishing another thrilling raid down the left flank.

Paterson could not convert either try, but at 26-0 the game was already over as a contest.

Things got a little untidy after that, referee Warren Turley baffling both sides and prop Andy Yates finally managing to get the visitors on the scoreboard, but Fax finished strongly.

Fieldhouse crossed for his second after some trickery from Handforth, before Barlow danced over in the last minute.

Halifax: Fieldhouse; Worrincy, Heaton, Bowman, Paterson; Handforth, Murrell; Tonks, Thackeray, Ambler, Manning, Casey, Ashall. Subs: Robinson, Barlow, Divorty, Sheriffe

Hunslet: Watson; Bush, Keinhorst, Brickwood, Chisholm; Grimshaw, Helliwell; Singleton, Hood, Menzies, Haughey, Oakes, March. Subs: Pryce, Yates, Haigh, Houston

Referee: Warren Turley