Johnston scores twice as Fax win at Barrow

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Halifax maintained their winning run with a hot, hard-fought 48-22 victory over Championship battlers Barrow at Craven Park.

In scorching conditions on the Cumbrian coast, Richard Marshall’s side - who now face top four rivals Featherstone, London and Toulouse in successive weeks - led 30-10 at the break and survived the second half sin-binning of prop Dan Fleming to close out a vital win.

The visitors were ahead inside two minutes, Jacob Fairbank going over from a short ball from Ben Johnston, Steve Tyrer converting.

But when both Scott Murrell and Kieren Moss allowed the kick off to bounce on a rock hard pitch, Barrow’s Dan Toal cleaned up to touchdown, Jamie Dallimore converting for 6-6.

Barrow broke again immediately, but Fax scrambled back and when Johnston produced some footwork to score on 20 minutes, Tyrer put the visitors 12-6 up.

Murrell then made it six tries in six games with another close range score before Shane Grady profited from some deception by Johnston, Tyrer converting both for 24-6.

A slip at the other end allowed Shane Toal to score to cut the deficit to 24-10, but when Fax kept the ball alive in the final minutes of the half, Moss popped up with an inside ball for Chester Butler to go over by the posts.

Tyrer’s conversion gave the visitors a 30-10 interval cushion, but the second half began with the visitors reduced to 12 men after a reckless, needless challenge from Fleming on Dallimore that led almost immediately to a Ryan Johnson touchdown, converted by Dallimore, that made it 30-16.

A charge down from Grady saw Barrow regain the ball, shipping it wide to where Shane Toal dived in for his second, Dallimore reducing the gap to a tantalising 30-22.

A scintillating long range score from Moss restored the visitors’ buffer at 34-22, before Tyrer added a penalty for 36-22 with 14 minutes remaining.

And when Adam Tangata romped clear from a Barrow error, Tyrer’s conversion made things a lot more comfortable at 22-42 with seven minutes to go before Johnston grabbed his second in the closing stages.

Barrow: Burroughs; Toal, Stack, Loxham, Pownall; Dallimore, Johnson; Bullock, Mossop, Susino, Smith, Morrow, Toal. Subs: Duffy, Parata, Riley, While

Halifax: Moss; Saltonstall, Tyrer, Woodburn-Hall, Sharp; Murrell, Johnston; Tangata, Kaye, Fairbank, Butler, Grady, Grix. Subs: Maher, Moore, Fleming, Barber

Referee: Liam Staveley