Rovers up to third as Fax comeback falls short

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Featherstone strengthened their grip on a top five Championship spot and sentenced Halifax to a fifth straight league loss as they won 24-18 at the Shay.

The visitors dominated for long spells of a hotly-contested West Yorkshire derby and looked to have wrapped the game up when they led 18-6 inside the final quarter.

But back-to-back Steve Tyrer tries turned the contest on its head as Fax levelled the scores with 15 minutes to go.

Rovers saw Dane Chisholm’s drop goal attempt charged down with eight minutes to go, but the ball fell kindly for the visitors, who retained possession long enough for centre Josh Hardcastle to wriggle over on the left.

Chisholm converted to settle the contest and fire Rovers into the fifth and final play off berth.

Fax’s recent woes have arrived on the back of big error counts and that trend continued as Rovers took a fourth-minute lead.

Back rower Brad Day was the scorer from a short, sharp Chisholm pass, after Scott Grix had kicked the ball out on the full and James Saltonstall conceded a subsequent penalty.

Chisholm converted for a 6-0 lead and Rovers continued to look the more purposeful team until Fax hit back with 24 minutes on the clock.

Half back Ben Johnston’s kick lingered close enough to the sideline to tempt Callum Turner into collecting it and the Rovers full back was promptly shovelled into touch by Tyrer.

Straight from the scrum, the ball was whipped to the left, where Quentin Laulu-Togagae slipped Saltonstall through a gap to score, Tyrer levelling the scores at 6-6.

But when Grix put the ball straight out for a second time at the end of the next set, Rovers went back on the offensive, Chisholm chipping over a penalty to make it 8-6 before the impressive Australian hooker Cameron King scored from close range.

Chisholm’s conversion pushed the visitors’ lead out to 14-6 at the break, although Fax might have been closer if Tyrer’s no-look pass had not gone behind winger Shaun Robinson on the stroke of half time.

Rovers added to their lead 16 minutes into the second half, winger Luke Briscoe touching down from a Hardcastle offload, with Chisholm’s kick putting the visitors into what looked like a commanding position at 18-6.

Five minutes later though the game had been turned on its head as the home side suddenly registered two tries in two minutes.

Tyrer got them both, the first from a Laulu-Togagae pass and the second after a determined 40 metre charge down the left flank.

The centre converted them both to level the scores with 15 minutes to go, but it was Rovers who finished the stronger.

Halifax: Grix; Robinson, Tyrer, Saltonstall, Sharp; Laulu-Togagae, Johnston; Kavanagh, Kaye, Morris, Barber, Cooper, Tangata. Subs: Fleming, Fairbank, Larroyer, O’Neill

Featherstone: Turner; Dagger, Hardcastle, Carey, Briscoe; Chisholm, McLelland; Wheeldon, King, Ormondroyd, Day, Walters, Lockwood. Subs: Teteh, Cooper, Maskill, Makatoa

Referee: Gareth Hewer

Attendance: 1,888