Mixed bag for Fax as Rovers take Boxing Day spoils

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Halifax kicked off their pre-season fixtures with a 38-14 home reverse against Featherstone Rovers.

The performance was a mixed bag for a Fax side that blended youth and experience; they showed some promising touches before the break but faded in the second half with a side dominated by reserve grade players.

While coach Richard Marshall will be reluctant to draw too many conclusions from the game, the high point was arguably the performance of Connor Robinson at full back, with the former Hull KR player showing some promising touches with and without the ball.

There were also solid debuts from back row recruit Shane Grady and Salford youngster Liam Bent, the first Red Devils player to arrive as part of the dual-registration deal struck with the Manchester club.

Prop Luke Nelmes and little half back Morgan Punchard, who provided the only real moment of magic for either side, were the pick of Fax’s youngsters.

The home side drew first blood on the 10 minute mark, centre Ben Heaton twisting over the top of Rovers’ new centre signing Chris Ulugia to score in the right hand corner.

Steve Tyrer’s conversion drifted wide, and Rovers were level four minutes later when quick hands from substitute hooker Keal Carlisle sparked a passage of play that saw Josh Hardcastle slip over the line.

And the visitors were in front almost immediately, more sharp service from Carlisle giving Andy Bostock the chance to rumble over for a score that Michael Knowles converted for a 10-4 advantage.

Halifax’s young side stemmed the tide though and Punchard’s searing solo break created the space for Scott Murrell to touchdown just before the break, Tyrer’s second miss leaving the half time score at 10-8.

But it was all Rovers after the break as the balance of Fax’s side altered dramatically, perhaps too dramatically, and the visitors used their know-how and physicality to maximum advantage.

A flurry of tries from Bradley Tagg, Hardcastle, Sam Day, Andrew Bostock and Scott Turner gave the scoreboard a lopsided look, although the balance of the contest was restored in the final 10 minutes as Fax reintroduced Grady, Tyrer and company to prevent things getting out of control.

Halifax: Robinson; McGrath, Tyrer, Heaton, Saltonstall; Murrell, G. Moore; Boyle, Kaye, Nelmes, Grady, Bent, Fairbank. Subs: Morris, Reilly, B. Moore, Punchard, Calcott, Mead, Syme

Featherstone: Lyons; Hardman, Kitchen, Johnson, Duckworth; Wildie, Hardcastle; Turner, Ulugia, Day, Cooper, Knowles, Davies. Subs: Moore, Thackeray, Carlisle, Bostock, Mariano, Tagg, Briscoe

Referee: James Child