Super 8s Qualifiers: Salford speedsters expose Fax’s flaws

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Salford’s back division ran riot after the break as Halifax slipped to a fourth straight Super 8s Qualifiers loss, going down 50-28 at the Shay.

Richard Marshall’s side went into the game without injured wingers Tommy Saxton and Gareth Potts and the quicksilver half back or full back Ben Johnston, with Joe Martin - who has made just one Championship start, 12 months ago - and rookie centre Jake Eccleston drafted into the backline.

And they paid a high price for those enforced changes as the Reds’ Halifax-born back Niall Evalds and wingers Ben Jones-Bishop and Greg Johnson all finished with try trebles to inflict the home side’s heaviest defeat of the season.

Fax started brightly, forcing a repeat set at the end of their first possession, but it was Salford who took the lead in the 10th minute when full back Niall Evalds - a former Siddal junior - stretched out under the posts from Tommy Lee’s inside pass.

Centre Josh Griffin kicked the conversion for a 6-0 lead, which promptly doubled when Evalds scored again from the restart.

Trailing 12-0, Fax needed a lift and they got it when Dane Manning cut through from Steve Tyrer’s inside ball and the centre kicked the conversion for a 12-6 scoreline.

Fax continued to give as good as they got down the middle, but without the injured Ben Johnston they seemed to lack a little attacking spark.

Liam Hood’s introduction from the bench quickened up Salford’s attacking game, although Fax will have been disappointed with the visitors’ third try, a short side effort from Greg Johnson which opened up a 16-6 lead.

The home side suddenly looked ragged and when Ben Jones-Bishop touched down, Griffin converting, the Reds looked to have a matchwinning 22-6 advantage at the break.

The second half began with the try the home side needed, Scott Murrell regathering his own bomb after Evalds flapped at the ball, Tyrer converting to cut the gap to 22-12.

That good work was instantly undone when James Saltonstall’s attempted kick was scooped up by Evalds, who ran away for his treble, Michael Dobson converting.

Saltonstall quickly made amends with a sharp touchdown in the corner from Tyrer’s pass and when Connor Robinson split the line and put Jacob Fairbank over under the posts, Tyrer converting, it was game on at 28-22.

But at that point the Reds’ pace told and Fax’s challenge faded as Jones-Bishop, twice, and Johnson, twice, cruelly exposed the limitations of the home side’s makeshift backline.

The excellent Adam Tangata pulled a score back for Fax late on.

Halifax: Martin; Heaton, Eccleston, Tyrer, Saltonstall; C. Robinson, Murrell; Tangata, Kaye, Cahalane, Moore, Manning, Fairbank. Subs: Ambler, Bracek, Maneely, A. Robinson

Salford: Evalds; Jones-Bishop, Thornley, Griffin, Johnson; Lee, Dobson; Taylor, Tomkins, Griffin, Hansen, Maitua, Paterson. Subs: Walne, Hood, Forster, Krasniqi

Referee: Joe Cobb