Fax top 80 points again in second cup slaughter

Halifax 84

South Wales 28

In a game that was probably even more of a mismatch than most people expected, the Co-operative Championship leaders had finished the game as a contest inside the opening half hour after opening up a 24-6 lead.

After that, despite some questionable defence that allowed the Welsh to score five tries of their own - only Featherstone have scored more points against Fax in 2012 - it was always a question of how many they would win by.

The answer, it turned out, was plenty, as Fax rammed home 34 points in the last 16 minutes to emphasise the gulf between the top of the Championship and Championship One.

For Harrison, who left out a handful of key players and gave minimal game time to several others – notably hookers Craig Ashall and Sean Penkywicz and back rower Dane Manning - this was both a vindication of his personal assessment of the strength of the opposition and a job well done.

His side have certainly played better than this in recent weeks, but this was a low-key afternoon that was about progression and nothing else.

And with a place in today’s 3pm draw secured, and men like Jim Gannon, Luke Ambler, Ryan Fieldhouse, Wayne Reittie and Adam Robinson all fully rested for Thursday night’s league fixture against Leigh, the coach’s calculations could hardly have been more accurate.

The home side made the worst possible start, the Scorpions forcing the pace with a couple of decent offloads and full back David James making the most of centre Ben Heaton losing his footing to score the first try of the game only a couple of minutes in.

Stand off Scott Leatherbarrow kicked the conversion to remind the hosts they could not afford to take things too easily, although Fax should have been level within seconds when Steve Tyrer and Ross Divorty set Lee Paterson free down the left.

The winger did everything right, but Divorty could not reel in his lofted inside pass with the line wide open.

The slick ease with which that chance had been created was an omen to what was to follow though, as Harrison’s side carved through the defence virtually at will.

They opened their account on 12 minutes, Ashall sending Callum Casey racing over and Paterson kicking the conversion to level things up at 6-6.

It took them another five minutes to add to their tally – Ashall exchanging passes with Casey and then burrowing over himself from close range – but that pushed open the floodgates, with two more tries following back-to-back.

Paul Handforth and Ashall worked the chance for Anthony Bowman to touch down to the right of the posts, then Tyrer and Bowman both showed good skills to tee up Paterson in the left corner.

With Paterson on form with the boot, the game looked as good as over at 24-6 with less than half an hour gone.

The Welsh did score again when half back Rodney Peake stole the ball from Ashall and Leatherbarrow kicked the goal to close the gap to 24-12.

But two scores in the three minutes before half time, from White and Joe Chandler, made it 36-12 at the break, a fair reflection of Fax’s superiority.

The second half began as the first had ended; with Fax dashing over whitewash.

There was less than a minute on the clock when Handforth kicked, chased and then regathered before shimmying over on the left, and only a couple more when the half back sent Bowman dashing over on the other side of the field.

That pushed the scoreline out to 46-12, before a try from Scorpions’ substitute Steve Parry staunched the flow briefly at 46-18.

Tyrer raced clear down the left to restore normal service, before the visitors had their best spell of the afternoon, with some neat approach play yielding a brace of quick scores for Jack Murphy and James.

That reduced the chasm on the scoreboard to 50-28, but had the same kind of effect as poking a stick into a wasps’ nest.

Fax, prompted by Penkywicz’s fresh legs, went on to score six tries in the final 16 minutes with the explosive little hooker setting up back-to-back scores for Tyrer and Hesketh, before the excellent Manning simply ran through the defence to touch down on the right.

Penkywicz’s run and perfect pass then sent Makali Aizue rampaging to the posts, before Fax’s captain did it all himself, darting through a gap 40 metres out and holding off the cover in the race to the line for the 100th try of his Halifax career.

There was still time for one more, White finishing decisively from distance, as the home side broke the 80-point mark for the second successive round.