Good signs as Fax hold Tigers in try-rich friendly

Gareth Potts dives in for his hat trick
Gareth Potts dives in for his hat trick
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Halifax kicked off their pre-season programme with an eye-catching 30-all draw against Super League side Castleford at Wheldon Road.

The Tigers, who fielded enough of their big-name stars to make this a more than satisfactory result for Karl Harrison’s visitors, needed a last-play try from winger Richie Owen, his fourth of the game, to snatch a share of the spoils.

Fax, who trailed 12-0 and 18-6 in the first half before working their way back into the game, had their own star on the flank in new recruit Gareth Potts, the former Batley and Wakefield player, who scored three sharply-taken tries, including a spectacular 80 metre effort.

Elsewhere, there was plenty to admire from the rest of Fax’s winter signings as half backs Simon Brown and Ben Johnston and hookers Ben Kaye and Paul Mennell showed enough slick touches on their first outing together to suggest their combinations with skipper Scott Murrell will be more than fruitful.

Castleford had half a dozen players on debut, including the former Featherstone captain Liam Finn, but it was one of their established stars, the young hooker Daryl Clark, who drew first blood when a kick through the defence found Fax without cover as full back Ryan Fieldhouse struggled to get back into position after making a tackle on the wing.

Kirk Dixon converted for a 6-0 lead, which doubled in short-order when the winger scored himself after an uncharacteristic error from Wayne Reittie.

Fax’s response was immediate, with the former Tigers half back Johnston pouncing on an error from the kick off and hacking on and picking up to score, Steve Tyrer making it 12-6 with the conversion.

Owen promptly scored a second though as Fax struggled to get to the pace of the game, although when the visitors did get a foothold, they made it count; Potts scoring in the corner after some quick passing and a great final ball from Fieldhouse.

Owen nipped in again after a loose offload from the otherwise impressive Luke Adamson, before the half finished with Potts plundering his second of the game after a brilliant cut out pass from Mennell, leaving the score at 22-14 at the break.

Fax started the second half with Potts’ spectacular; the winger taking a bomb deep in his own half and then outstripping the entire Tigers left side defence to score.

That left Fax trailing 22-20, but when the former Wigan prop Sam Brooks backed up Fieldhouse to score under the posts, the visitors led 26-22.

Owen’s second try, after a cross kick from Luke Dorn, levelled matters at 26-26 but Brown picked off an interception 20 metres out and cantered in to score, Tyrer putting the conversion inexplicably wide to leave Fax leading 30-26 with 25 minutes remaining.

Both sides had chance to add to their tally, Ben Heaton going close for Fax and the visitors needing a miracle tackle from Dane Manning to stop the Tigers scoring in the left corner.

Finally, with Finn pulling the strings at half back, the visitors cracked as Owen scored in the corner.

Dixon’s conversion attempt, which would have been something of a travesty had it gone over, corkscrewed wide and honours were even.

Castleford: Tansey; Owen, Channing, Dixon, Clare; Sneyd, Dorn; Lynch, Clark, Huby, Gilmour, Holmes, Wheeldon. Subs: Fleming, Finn, Martin, Reynolds, Howden, Maher, Day, Orr.

Halifax: Fieldhouse; Reittie, Tyrer, Heaton, Potts; Brown, Johnston, Tonks, Kaye, Bracek, Manning, Adamson, Murrell. Subs: Fairbank, Mennell, Worrincy, Ambler, Divorty, Brooks, Casey, Ward

Referee: Chris Leatherbarrow