Fax v Rams: Late tries finally seal home victory

Gareth Potts celebrates with Ben Heaton and Ryan Maneely
Gareth Potts celebrates with Ben Heaton and Ryan Maneely

Halifax finally got the reward their performance deserved as they swamped Championship rivals Dewsbury with three tries in the final seven minutes to register their first home win of 2015.

In a game hugely reminiscent of last weekend’s frustrating Shay loss to Featherstone, Richard Marshall’s side did everything but score as they trailed 12-6 and then 13-12 against a Rams side who had ended their 2014 season in the play offs.

But with the Shay crowd becoming tetchy and Marshall’s players looking more and more nervous, a pass finally stuck with seven minutes to go when recalled winger Gareth Potts, making his first start of the season, dived over in the corner after a long pass from full back James Saltonstall.

Steve Tyrer’s conversion attempt drifted wide to leave Fax leading just 16-13, but the tide had finally turned as a try from Tyrer himself - from a desperate short drop out attempt - put the game out of reach at 20-13 before prop Luke Ambler broke the line 30 metres out and raced away to score in the corner.

“I think the work we did in the first half, the speed we played the game in the first half told in those last few minutes,” said Marshall.

“Dewsbury defended their line really well, but when we lifted the tempo in the last 10 minutes they couldn’t cope with that.

“I’m pleased we have got a home win, that’s what we wanted and that’s what the players have been talking about.”

The opening gambits from both sides had been unremarkable, with the first real attacking moment of note not really arriving until the quarter hour, when Fax skipper Scott Murrell and full back Saltonstall combined to open the defence, only for the scoring pass to end up on the ground.

Fax gradually began to dominate though; pinning the Rams in their own half for long spells as the visitors struggled to make any headway against a disciplined, hard hitting defence.

With the ball though, the home side continue to look like a team missing either some confidence or attacking class.

Perhaps it’s the legacy of a couple of difficult years, where the Shay crowd grew more accustomed to booing than cheering, but Marshall’s attacking revolution is not happening overnight.

It was therefore typical that after Saltonstall was - harshly - penalised on the Rams’ try line that the visitors went straight up the other end, with their first line break of the match, and scored through the giant Karl Pryce.

Keiran Hyde converted from touch for a 6-0 lead, but Fax were level within a minute; aggressively regaining the kick off, centre Ben Heaton charging over on the right and Tyrer converting.

Even then though there was disaster; ex-Fax full back Anthony Thackeray pinching an interception on his own line and racing the length of the field to set up a 12-6 half time lead.

Fax levelled 16 minutes into the second half when Potts was felled by Pryce after great handling down the right flank and Saltonstall ran straight and hard to finally puncture the defence.

Tommy Saxton went close in the corner, before Hyde kicked a drop goal off the post to give the Rams the lead again at 13-12.

But Fax’s persistence finally paid off as they cantered home in some style.

Halifax: Saltonstall; Saxton, Heaton, Tyrer, Potts; Murrell, Johnston; Cahalane, Maneely, Ambler, Divorty, Manning, Fairbank. Subs: Bracek, Moore, Kaye, Spencer

Dewsbury: Pryce; Morton, Grady, Crookes, Grant; Hyde, Thackeray; Smith, Wildie, Hepworth, T. Adamson, Hale, L. Adamson. Subs: Brown, Godwin, Jackson, Aizue

Referee: C. Kendall