Halifax pay for shoddy defence

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By Sam Duffy

Halifax fell to a fourth straight defeat as they went down 48-28 to Sheffield Eagles at the Shay today.

Both sides made last season’s top four in the Kingstone Press Championship, but as the likes of Batley and Featherstone played Leeds and Hull KR respectively, the pair started their Championship Shield campaign.

It took only three minutes for Sheffield to open the scoring. Their first attacking set ended with Scott Wheeldon collecting Keal Carlile’s pass on the last tackle before crashing over to the side of the posts. Cory Aston converted.

An error from Carlile from the kick-off gave Fax the ball straight back. A short pop off pass from hooker Ben Kaye was met by a charging Luke Ambler and he couldn’t be stopped from five metres out. Gareth Moore added the extra two.

An entertaining opening nine minutes was capped with Fax going ahead. Another short ball - this time from Scott Murrell - was met by Adam Tangata, who wasn’t going to be halted from close range. Moore again converted.

From the offset it had been clear both sides hadn’t prioritised their defensive duties and Sheffield duly went in again inside the opening 15 minutes. Quentin Laulu-Togagae exploited poor short side defence from Richard Marshall’s side to close the gap to two points. Aston missed the first kick of the afternoon.

The game was only 18 minutes old when former Fax man Rob Worrincy added his name to an already long list of scorers. Aston’s high kick wasn’t dealt with by Will Sharp and Worrincy had the simple task of planting the ball down.

The 1,228 spectactors were getting their money’s worth in terms of tries. Murrell’s grubber kick was taken by his half back partner Gareth Moore, who dived on the ball to put Fax back in the lead. The scorer converted.

The lead only lasted a few moments. A needless attempted off-load from Richard Moore gave Sheffield the ball back and only a couple of plays later replacement Adam Neal went under the posts. Aston was again reliable with the boot.

Aston added another Eagles four pointer and Stan Roban - on loan from Catalan Dragons - added another try with Aston converting.

That made it six tries and four conversions for the visitors to give them a 14 point lead at the break.

In an afternoon of rare positives Chester Butler, a former Brooksbank School student, made his debut for Halifax.

Garry Lo opened the scoring in the second stanza by somehow squeezing in down the left hand side of the Fax defence. Aston was wide with the kick from the touchline.

Soon after, Tangata got his second of the afternoon from Moore’s neat kick, but that was about as good as it got in the second period for Halifax.

Matt James and Lo added two late tries to leave coach Richard Marshall looking for answers after another setback.

Fax face Bradford Bulls at Odsal next week.

Halifax: Johnston, Sharp, Barber, Heaton, Saltonstall; G Moore, Murrell (c); Cahalane, Kaye, Boyle, Bennion, Tangata, Ambler. Subs: R Moore, Butler, B Moore, Morris.

Sheffield: Laulu-Togagae, Worrincy, Yere, Chappell, Lo; Robin, Aston; Thorpe (c), Carlile, Wheeldon, James, Straugheir, Margalet. Subs: Tyson, Fozzard, Neal, Mexico.