Halifax 50 Swinton 28
Halifax maintained their two-point deficit to Co-operative Championship leaders Featherstone with a comfortable but patchy victory over Steve McCormack’s struggling Lions.
Full back Ryan Fieldhouse led the way with a four-try haul and prop Tony Tonks made a solid debut for his new club, but generally this was far from the convincing performance coach Karl Harrison was looking a fortnight before the Northern Rail Cup final against Rovers.
Fax looked sharp enough when they held on to the ball, but that happened all too infrequently as the passes consistently seemed to go astray.
Things weren’t much better at the other end of the field, with Swinton’s neat football finding too many gaps in a less-than-ironclad defence.
In fact, the best news of the day probably had nothing to do with the match itself; the Leeds prop Luke Ambler, a huge success with his hometown club this year on a dual-registration contract, signing a permanent two year deal on the pitch at half time having agreed terms in the morning.
On the field, Fax had started like the proverbial house on fire, with Fieldhouse, who has been back on form in recent weeks, and the centre Steve Tyrer both touching down inside the opening five minutes.
With Tyrer adding the conversions, Fax were 12-0 up before Swinton had drawn breath.
But with the errors creeping all too readily into Fax’s game, the Lions scored two quick tries of their own through David Mills and Ian Mort, with Mort adding a single conversion to leave things poised at 12-10 with a quarter of the game gone.
The visitors then went ahead when Karl Ashall, the brother of Fax loose forward Craig, finished off super, inventive approach play and Mort landed the conversion for a 16-12 lead.
That sparked Fax into life and two Lee Paterson touchdowns before the break saw them open up a 24-16 interval lead.
After that, it always seemed a matter of how many they would win by, as Anthony Bowman and Fieldhouse touched down early in the second half to open up a 34-16 lead.
Tom Armstrong replied for Swinton, before Sam Barlow and Fieldhouse, twice, put Fax 50-22 ahead.
Even then, they insisted on gifting Swinton the last word, substitute Neil Holland scoring in the final minute.
Halifax: Fieldhouse; Worrincy, Tyrer, Paterson, Reittie, Handforth, Thackeray; Barlow, Penkywicz, Hesketh, Manning, Robinson, Ashall. Subs: Bowman, Casey, Tonks, Gannon
Swinton: Mort; Dodd, Reay, Armstrong, Penny; Ainscough, I’Anson; Mills, Ashall, Morrison, Cuniffe, Clarke, Forster. Subs: Holland, Meekin, Hurst, Smith
Referee: Gareth Hewer