Saxton double and Potts’ heroics seal Fax win over Eagles

Steve Tyrer touches down
Steve Tyrer touches down

Halifax rejuvenated their Championship challenge as Tommy Saxton scored twice in a nail-biting 30-28 win over reigning champions Sheffield at the Shay.

On the day spring officially sprung, Karl Harrison’s side - so heavily, and perhaps unfairly, maligned after last week’s last-play loss to Batley - dominated Mark Aston’s side for long periods of a good quality contest.

But they still needed a last-second ankle tap from winger Gareth Potts, who dived full length to bring down Eagles’ Scott Turner after he raced on to a desperate kick from Michael Knowles, to prevent an encouraging afternoon turning sour.

Potts’ heroics should never really have been required, with Fax leading 24-10 with 20 minutes remaining after Saxton scored his second try to bolster a 16-10 interval lead.

But a scrambling try from substitute Matt Garside with nine minutes to go, followed by another from Turner less than 60 seconds later that took the scores to 22-22, set up a finale far more dramatic than had seemed likely.

Fax prop Luke Ambler showed fierce determination to burrow over from a tap penalty with four minutes to go, the impressive Steve Tyrer seemingly winning the game again at 30-22.

Dominic Brambani danced over for Sheffield straight from the kick off though, converting to put the Eagles back in range at 30-28 before Potts successfully dealt with their last, spectacular, throw of the dice.

Earlier, Fax had been impressive in the opening 40 minutes, Tyrer scoring from an early Adam Robinson break, Saxton finishing off a darting run from Ben Johnston and Potts mopping up a sharp chance from Ryan Fieldhouse’s break.

The Eagles replied through Menzie Yere and Garside, but with Tyrer landing two conversions from touch, Karl Harrison’s side were full value for their interval advantage.

A crucial penalty, coolly landed from 40 metres by Tyrer 11 minutes after the break, gave them an 18-10 lead, before Saxton’s second sparked a dramatic last quarter.

Halifax: Fieldhouse; Saxton, Tyrer, Heaton, Potts; Murrell, Johnston; Ambler, Kaye, Bracek, Manning, Robinson, Adamson. Subs: Brown, Tonks, Davies, Divorty

Sheffield: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Yere, Ford, Taulapapa; Walker, Brambani; Scott, Henderson, Stringer, Knowles, Green, Straugheir. Subs: Owens, Palmer, Garside, Squires

Referee: George Stokes