Sharp’s double and Jones’ debut the highlights as Fax scrape home at Hornets

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Halifax secured their second Championship win of the season despite a scratchy performance against Rochdale at Spotland.

Richard Marshall’s side ran out 26-20 winners, with two second half tries from outstanding full back Will Sharp helping them overturn an 8-6 half time deficit.

The first half had been summed up by the opening set; the visitors making easy metres, initially through a surging Simon Grix and forcing a drop out but then losing possession on the second tackle.

That set the tone for an error-strewn half with the ball, which was all the more ironic after a week of talking up the importance of looking after possession after last week’s reverse against Toronto.

Time and again, Marshall’s players gobbled up the ground or won a penalty, then squandered the resulting field position with a handling error.

Fortunately, their defensive game was on song, with Rochdale, despite a glut of free possession, kept in check for the most part.

They did pierce the defence once, the Warrington centre Toby King putting winger Rob Massam over after 14 minutes and another Wolf, the impressive teenager Harvey Livett, adding the conversion and a subsequent penalty to open up an 8-0 lead.

Fax looked particularly dangerous down the middle, where Rochdale could not live with their speed around the ruck, and fittingly that was where their try finally arrived.

Young Welshman Sion Jones, making an excellent senior debut, drove to within a metre of the line and hooker Ben Kaye burrowed over from point blank range, Steve Tyrer converting for an 8-6 half time deficit that seemed at odds with the previous 40 minutes.

The visitors began the second half with two completed sets, but a needless penalty - Dan Fleming leaving his hands on the ball far too long - opened the door for Rochdale to score immediately, Pat Moran touching down Dave Allen’s pass and Livett opening up a 14-6 lead.

But the visitors responded just past the 50 minute mark, Sharp slipping through the defence to touchdown.

Tyrer missed the conversion to leave the score poised at 14-10, but when James Woodburn-Hall hoisted the ball high into the sun in the 60th minute the defence melted away and Grix collected to score.

Tyrer’s conversion put Fax ahead for the first time at 16-14 and when Woodburn-Hall, who continues to improve at half back, sent Sharp haring to the corner with 13 minutes remaining, Fax led 20-14.

And when Scott Murrell’s offload set up Ed Barber in injury time and Tyrer kicked his side into a 26-14 lead, than seemed to be that.

But there was still time for one final comedy of errors, with Livett’s late converted try leading to a nervous final 30 seconds as the visitors clung on for the win.

Rochdale: Lepori; Cross, Hurst, King, Massam; Palfrey, Yates; Taira, Moores, L. Adamson, Allen, Mitchell, Livett. Subs: T. Adamson, Maneely, Moran, Johnson

Halifax: Sharp; Clare, Heaton, Tyrer, Saltonstall; Murrell, Woodburn-Hall; Maher, Moore, Murray, Barber, Grix, Fairbank. Subs: Fleming, Kaye, Jones, Morris

Referee: T. Grant