Halifax 18 Sheffield Eagles 20: Halifax fall to 14th league defeat of the campaign against play-off chasing Sheffield

Keegan Hirst made his debut for Halifax following his move from Wakefield Trinity. PIC: Simon Hall.
Keegan Hirst made his debut for Halifax following his move from Wakefield Trinity. PIC: Simon Hall.

Halifax RLFC limply fell to their ninth defeat in their last 11 matches after losing a poor contest 20-18 to Sheffield Eagles at the Shay.

Halifax led early on but looked toothless in attack thereafter, succumbing to an 18-6 deficit at the break.

Sheffield extended their lead after the restart but Halifax rallied to score two second-half tries, though in the end the victory inevitably seemed beyond their grasp.

A decidedly flat atmosphere inside the Shay stadium was met by an equally flat display from both sets of players in the first 10 minutes, with handling errors aplenty.

Halifax broke that pattern when a Scott Grix short ball gave Steve Tyrer the chance to release Shaun Robinson to ground in left corner. Tyrer then added a brilliant conversion from the touchline.

The mistakes soon came to the fore again as Tyrer lost the ball on the halfway line and Sheffield capitalised as Aaron Brown’s quick pass put Oliver Davies over.

A couple of sets later, Kevin Larroyer knocked on in the same place Tyrer had done and once again the Eagles took full advantage.

Brown was again involved providing the final pass before Patrick Burns slid over. Pat Walker added extras for both scores.

In response Halifax tried to throw the ball around in attack but to no avail. In the dying stages of the half, Brown added a try to his two assists, easily turning his way over the Halifax defence underneath the posts.

Another Walker goal followed and the Eagles led 18-6 at the break. After the break it was Halifax who were forcing the issue but failing to take their chances.

James Saltonstall dropped a short pass from Ben Johnston, Tyrer misplaced an offload close to the line and Conor McGrath missed the target with a dive in the corner.

But, it was Sheffield - without working hard to do so - who would score next, Pat Walker knocking over a penalty after 55 minutes.

Ten minutes later though Halifax did manage to get themselves a deserved score. Saltonstall picked out a brilliant offload from the floor to release Grix to touchdown.

Then with eight minutes to play, there were just two points separating the sides. Successive penalties put Halifax in close proximity of the Sheffield line and a looping pass from Johnston left Tyrer with a run-in, from which he converted.

From an otherwise poor quality match, it teed up a rather tense finish.

But Halifax couldn’t keep their compuse and couldn’t take the one genuine chance they conjured in the dying stages - a Murrell crossfield kick going through the hands of Tyrer.

Halifax: Grix; Robinson, Tyrer, Saltonstall, McGrath; Murrell, Woodburn-Hall; Hirst, Moore, Fairbank; Cooper, Barber, Larroyer. Subs: Johnston, Fleming, Kavanagh, Con Davies

Sheffield: Guzdek; Millar, Yere, Ogden, Blackmore; Walker, Thackeray; Pick, G Burns, Tagg; Davies, Farrell, Brown. Subs: Makelim, Broadbent, P Burns, Dixon

Referee: G. Hewer

Attendance: 1,205