championship: Halifax snatched a last minute 24-18 win over Swinton Lions with a try from their dual-registered Leeds forward Luke Ambler settling a pulsating Co-operative Championship encounter.
Swinton took the early lead when full-back Richie Hawkyard cut through on the left and sent Ryan Fieldhouse the wrong way on his way to the try line.
Gavin Dodd kicked the conversion for a 6-0 lead, and the home side were 12-0 ahead when Adam Higson charged onto a short ball from the former Halifax half back Ian Watson to score on the right.
Dodd again obliged from the sideline for a 12-0 advantage, with the visitors looking distinctly off colour in the aftermath of last weekend’s 23-16 defeat at Batley.
Halifax finally stirred themselves on 23 minutes, Ambler – easily their best player – touching down after a charge from close range.
Centre Lee Paterson converted, but, despite a couple of clear-cut chances, that was as good as it got for Halifax as half time arrived with Swinton still 12-6 ahead.
Halifax scored first in the second period, stand-off Paul Handforth stepping through from a metre out and Paterson kicking the goal for a 12-12 stalemate after 47 minutes. That lasted a matter of moments, Swinton stand-off Martin Ainscough pouncing on a Chaz I’Anson kick and Dodd restoring their advantage at 18-12.
The visitors levelled again when the young stand-off Anthony Bowman scored from Handforth’s break and Paterson converted for 18-18.
Halifax had a drop goal attempt with six minutes remaining, but Anthony Thackeray’s kick drifted wide.
Watson’s kick at the other end went the same way, before referee Jamie Leahy awarded an obstruction penalty against Hawkyard 20 metres out.
Paterson stepped up against his former club, but inexplicably put the ball wide from in front of the posts.
That looked like the end of the action, but Ambler broke the line 10 metres out and then charged over Hawkyard for the winner, Paterson converting.
Swinton: Hawkyard; Dodd, Higson, Armstrong, Penny; Ainscough, Watson; Forster, Smith, Walker, Cuniffe, Hawkyard, I’Anson. Substitutes: Morrison, Mills, Riley, Ashall
Halifax: Fieldhouse; Worrincy, Paterson, Haley, White; Handforth, Thackeray; Aizue, Penkywicz, Ambler, Manning, Robinson, Ashall. Substitutes: Bowman, Divorty, Barlow, Gannon
Referee: J Leahy (Dewsbury).