Holmes try foils Fax

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Halifax succumbed to a third successive pre-season defeat as they were edged out 20-16 by Featherstone Rovers at the LD Nutrition Stadium today.

The match served as a dress rehearsal for the Betfred Championship opener between the two teams on February 4.

The sides were locked at 16-16 with 12 minutes remaining when Tom Holmes secured victory for the hosts.

Halifax’s latest signing, Dan Fleming, scored on his debut, with Sion Jones and Jack Fairbank also getting on the scoresheet.

Featherstone dominated the territorial battle in the opening quarter, but showed pre-season rustiness near the line, while Halifax struggled to break out of their own half.

The visitors wasted their first opportunity. Steve Tyrer’s pass to wingman Conor McGrath went behind and into touch.

Fax continued with their pressure, though, and were soon rewarded. Ben Kaye&’s dummy half pass from the foot of the posts was knocked to the ground for Jones to collect and barge over from close range. Tyrer converted to give Halifax a lead.

Featherstone soon levelled, when Martyn Ridyard’s kick off the outside of his boot sent the ball into a dangerous area and confused the Halifax defence. Tyrer reached the ball but failed to hold it and Anthony Thackeray seized upon it like a predator to touch down for the Rovers.

James Saltonstall came agonisingly close to restoring Fax’s lead, but was held up over the line.

Rovers took their next opportunity on the stroke of half time. Ridyard was the architect once again with a long cut-out pass for winger Shaun Robinson to stroll over too wide out for the conversion.

Fairbank put his side back on level terms nine minutes into the second-half. He stepped over to the short side and stormed over from 10 metres out.

Ex-Toronto player Dan Fleming then announced his return from Canada as he charged over from close range. Adam Brook added the extras to put Fax 16-10 up.

The hosts responded with two tries inside three minutes. Thackeray linked from the back in a set play from Keal Carlile and Ridyard.

Ridyard then levelled the scores from the tee before sending Tom Holmes through from a short distance with a clever pass.

Halifax will require an improved performance when they face Featherstone in the season opener on February 4 but will expect to bolster their side with returning senior players.