Lock Lane 6
A PLACE in the fourth round of the Carnegie Challange Cup booked? Yep.
Clean bill of health? Check.
No sendings off, on reports, or other potential flies in the ointment ahead of the start of the Co-operative Championship in Toulouse next Saturday night? No.
For those three reasons alone, Halifax should feel perfectly satisfied with this one-sided romp against the Castleford amateurs, who at least left Calderdale knowing they had made a slender - six point - improvement on their last visit to the Shay in 2005, when they were beaten 76-0 by Anthony Farrell’s side.
Sure, Fax were a long way from perfect: They were impatient, they over-played at times, they made mistakes.
But no one should be surprised by that. That’s the way the reigning Championship champions do things.
When it comes off, as it did on plenty of occasions yesterday, Fax sparkle. When it doesn’t, they look shoddy. That’s life at the Shay though.
The big plus points for coach Matt Calland were the return of 35-year-old stand off Graham Holroyd, who did what Graham Holroyd always does - passing crisply and lining up his support runners expertly - and another blistering 40 minute cameo from BARLA full back Ryan Fieldhouse, who tore ‘Lane to shreds after replacing Miles Greenwood at half time.
The negatives were some dubious defensive work, particularly out wide, and the aforementioned lack of patience, both of which can be at least partly attributed to the contest’s low-key nature.
The home side had started like the proverbial house on fire, twice moving the ball to the right in the opening six minutes to create tries for Rob Worrincy and Dylan Nash.
Danny Jones - playing alongside Holroyd for the first time as Calland rested Ben Black - skewed both conversions narrowly wide from the touchline, but Fax were already travelling ahead of the point-a-minute schedule that tends to be the unofficial benchmark for efficiency on these occasions.
They almost scored a third immediately when Jones was collared short of the line after Holroyd and Greenwood had carved open the defence.
After that though they went off the boil, partly due to Lock Lane’s bravery and entirely understandable determination to slow the ruck down, and partly due to their own equally predictable attempts at forcing the pass in search of more points.
As it was, it was the visitors who scored next, winger Adam Garlick exploiting the same defensive frailty down Fax’s right that both Batley and Whitehaven had highlighted in the preceding eight days.
Back rower Wayne Hardy converted, but normal service was resumed on quarter time when Greenwood romped over from Holroyd’s pass.
Worrincy then scored a spectacular second, going outside the defence and then cutting back inside to beat the full back, before Stephen Bannister added Fax’s fifth with some sparkling footwork down the right.
Sean Penkywicz scored from close range, Jones adding his third successful kick to take Fax out to 32-6, but after that there was a hiatus of almost 10 minutes. During that time the only clear chance was Nash’s brilliant offload that Worrincy could not take – before Greenwood scored his second after Holroyd and Paul White had done the spadework, leaving Fax leading 38-6 at the break.
The second half was only a couple of minutes young when Sam Barlow and Fieldhouse carved open a gap for Holroyd to score from 30 metres out.
And when Jones, who finished with 10 conversions from 14 attempts, ran straight through the defence a couple of minutes later, the scoreboard was ticking over nicely at 50-6.
Bannister, who must surely have nailed down one of the starting back row spots for next weekend’s trip to France, promptly scored his second try of the game before Lock Lane had got their hands on the ball again.
White then ran round the cover to score on the right and Fieldhouse showed both speed and strength to touchdown after Nash had charged clear straight from a scrum on half way.
White gave up a second score over the line, gifting the try to Bob Beswick after one of Fax’s best passages of play, before finally claiming his second with five minutes to go after Jones’ pinpoint cross kick.
All that remained was for Lock Lane, who became increasingly fractious as the game drew to a close, to lose loose forward Craig Jeffels to the sin bin for persistent high tackling with a minute left.