Halifax 28 Salford 50: Depleted Fax punished by Devils’ slick backs

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Salford’s back division ran riot after the break as Halifax slipped to a fourth straight Super 8s Qualifiers loss.

Richard Marshall’s side went into the game without injured wingers Tommy Saxton and Gareth Potts and the quicksilver Ben Johnston, with Joe Martin – who has made just one Championship start, 12 months ago – and rookie Jake Eccleston drafted into the backline.

And they paid a high price for those enforced changes as the Reds’ Halifax-born back Niall Evalds and wingers Ben Jones-Bishop and Greg Johnson all finished with try trebles.

Salford who took the lead when full-back Evalds stretched out under the posts.

Josh Griffin kicked the conversion for a 6-0 lead, which promptly doubled when Evalds scored again from the restart.

Trailing 12-0, Dane Manning cut through from Steve Tyrer’s inside ball and the centre kicked the conversion. Liam Hood’s introduction from the bench quickened up Salford’s attacking game, and Greg Johnson’s try opened up a 16-6 lead.

The home side suddenly looked ragged and when Ben Jones-Bishop touched down, Griffin converting, the Reds looked to have a matchwinning 22-6 advantage at the break.

The second half began with the try the home side needed, Scott Murrell regathering his own bomb after Evalds flapped at the ball, Tyrer converting to cut the gap to 22-12.

But James Saltonstall’s attempted kick was scooped up by Evalds, who ran away for his treble, Michael Dobson converting.

Saltonstall replied with a touchdown in the corner from Tyrer’s pass and when Connor Robinson split the line and put Jacob Fairbank over under the posts, Tyrer converting, it was game on at 28-22.

But at that point the Reds’ pace told and Halifax’s challenge faded as Jones-Bishop, twice, and Johnson, twice, cruelly exposed the limitations of the home side’s makeshift backline.

The excellent Adam Tangata pulled a score back for Fax late on.

Halifax: Martin; Heaton, Eccleston, Tyrer, Saltonstall; C. Robinson, Murrell; Tangata, Kaye, Cahalane, Moore, Manning, Fairbank. Substitutes: Ambler, Bracek, Maneely, A. Robinson.

Salford: Evalds; Jones-Bishop, Thornley, Griffin, Johnson; Lee, Dobson; Taylor, Tomkins, Griffin, Hansen, Maitua, Paterson. Substitutes: Walne, Hood, Forster, Krasniqi.

Referee: J Cobb (RFL).