Halifax 18 Sheffield Eagles 10: Champions Sheffield open season with defeat to Harrison’s Halifax

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Halifax opened their Championship campaign with a gutsy win against the 2012 champions.

Karl Harrison’s side seized a 16-10 lead just before half time, but had to wait until the 72nd minute for victory due to a Paul Handforth penalty.

It was the South Yorkshire side who sparked a tit-for-tat first quarter, back row Michael Knowles touching down Pat Walker’s grubber kick after only three minutes.

Halifax levelled through Ross Divorty and then went ahead through Handforth, however the veteran scrum half also landed a single conversion to see his side lead 10-4 in front after 20 minutes.

The Eagles tied things up at 10-10 with a touchdown from wing Missi Taulapapa, full-back Quentin Laulu-Togagae the provider with a neat kick along the ground.

But it was the home side who went in at the break leading 16-10 after the former Leeds and Hull KR playmaker Scott Murrell chinked the ball towards the posts and full-back Ryan Fieldhouse claimed the try, Handforth converting.

The first 20 minutes of the second half were a tight affair, with a long-range penalty miss from Handforth and a touchline break from Sheffield’s Menzie Yere the only action of note.

Sheffield half-back Dominic Brambani had a try chalked off for obstruction after 55 minutes, but the chance the home side had been waiting for finally arrived eight minutes from time, handforth stepping up to convert the crucial penalty.

Halifax: Fieldhouse, Worrincy, Paterson, Heaton, Sheriffe, Handforth, Thackeray, Ambler, C Ashall, Bracek, Robinson, Divorty, Murell. Unused substitutes: Tonks, K Ashall, Davies, Casey.

Sheffield Eagles: Laulu-Togagae, Morrison, Yere, Armstrong, Taulapapa, Walker, Brambani, Howieson, Henderson, Stringer, Knowles, Green, Szostak. Unused substitutes: Davey, Roache, Straugheir, Higgins.

Referee: G Stokes (RFL).

Bradford have brought forward their home Super League game against St Helens to Saturday, February 23 (kick-off 2pm), to avoid a clash with Bradford City’s Capital One Cup final appearance at Wembley the following day.