Halifax 34 Featherstone 20: Fax end ten-year wait to beat Rovers at The Shay

Misi Taulapapa, who scored Featherstone Rovers' first try.
Misi Taulapapa, who scored Featherstone Rovers' first try.
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Halifax beat Featherstone at the Shay for the first time in 10 years to secure a crucial win that elevated them to third in the Championship with three games to go.

Richard Marshall’s side led 16-8 at the break before closing out a solid 34-20 success and now sit level on points with second-placed Toulouse and a point clear of Rovers ahead of next weekend’s trip to fifth-placed London.

The home side took the lead after a fast-paced opening from both sides, former Featherstone winger Will Sharp scoring in the corner after quality build-up play from Chester Butler, Simon Grix and James Woodburn-Hall.

Steve Tyrer kicked the conversion for a 6-0 lead, although it took an astonishing piece of goalline defence by hooker Ben Kaye to deny Rovers’ Luke Cooper soon after.

But with the visitors ramping up the pressure – they forced three drop outs in the first 17 minutes – Fax eventually cracked when Misi Taulapapa skipped over on the right and Ian Hardman levelled the scores with the conversion.

Hardman added a penalty for an 8-6 lead, but the home side produced two tries of real quality either side of the half hour to establish a 16-8 interval lead.

Sharp got the first after a brilliant cut-out ball from Scott Murrell, Tyrer putting the kick wide, before Ben Johnston scored with nine minutes of the half remaining, kicking short for James Saltonstall and collecting the return to touchdown, Tyrer finishing the first half scoring.

The second half started with two sin-binnings, Johnston and Jack Ormondroyd being sidelined after a scuffle as the temperature on the pitch started to match the weather.

But it was Fax who got the next, crucial score, Adam Tangata rampaging over from Murrell’s short pass, Tyrer converting for a 22-8 lead.

Rovers replied eight minutes later when Josh Hardcastle twisted over the line, Hardman cutting the gap to 22-14. It was the home side doing the pressing though and they got their reward when Ben Kaye twisted over from close range, Tyrer pushing the lead out to 28-14.

Fax then lost Jacob Fairbank to the bin after he delayed a restart shortly after almost putting Kieren Moss over the line and the home side then went down to 11 after Gareth Hock’s foul on Sharp, who retaliated with a shove, landed both players yellow cards.

With time running out though, Murrell made sure of the win with a moment of deception that created a try for the flying Moss, Tyrer converting for 34-14 with three minutes to go.

Shaun Robinson’s last-minute try was no consolation for the visitors.

Halifax: Moss; Saltonstall, Tyrer, Woodburn-Hall, Sharp; Murrell, Johnston; Tangata, Kaye, Maher, Butler, Grady, Grix. Subs: Fairbank, Moore, Fleming, Barber

Featherstone: Hardman; Briscoe, Taulapapa, Walton, Robinson; Thackeray, Wildie; Wheeldon, Carlile, Cooper, Ormondroyd, Davies, Hock. Subs: Hardcastle, Knowles, Brookes, Dwyer.

Referee: Tom Grant.