Halifax finally clinched their place in the top four of the Championship in brilliant style, thrashing top-of-the-table Hull KR 28-6 at the Shay to leapfrog long-term rivals Toulouse on the final day of the league season.
The French side’s last gasp win over Featherstone on Saturday night had left Fax needing at least a point against Tim Sheens’s team – who had only lost twice all year – to land a lucrative spot in the Super 8s Qualifiers.
And Richard Marshall’s injury-ravaged players delivered emphatically when it mattered most, dispatching KR with their best performance of the season to claim a minimum of £450,000 in central funding next season.
The Qualifiers fixtures will be announced later this week, but Fax will have three home games – against Featherstone, Widnes and Catalans Dragons – with visits to Leigh, London, Hull KR and Marshall’s hometown club, Warrington.
Fax did the damage in the first half, opening up a 24-6 interval lead before methodically strangling the life out of their full-time visitors during the second 40 minutes.
They made a flying start, dominating the opening exchanges and opening a sixth-minute lead when captain Scott Murrell, who served Rovers with such distinction, kicked back against the defence and half back Ben Johnston pounced for the game’s opening try.
Centre Steve Tyrer kicked the conversion for a 6-0 lead but missed a penalty soon after and Rovers were level with their first attack of note, winger Keiron Moss scoring after 21 minutes and Jamie Ellis converting from the sideline for 6-6.
But Rovers were barely sighted in attack after that, Fax going close through Shane Grady before brilliant approach play from stand-in back rower Mitch Cahalane and centre Ed Barber put Ben Heaton into space and the winger beat Adam Quinlan to score.
Tyrer converted for a 12-6 advantage and five minutes later Fax were 18-6 ahead, the outstanding Will Sharp scoring from another Murrell kick and Tyrer tapping over the conversion.
And seconds before the break, they hammered what turned out to be the final nail in KR’s coffin, young hooker Brandon Moore bursting clear near half way and picking out the supporting Michael Sio with the scoring pass.
Tyrer made it 24-6 and although Rovers improved in the early minutes of the second half, Cahalane tracking across to produce a try-saving tackle on centre Thomas Minns, the expected onslaught from the full-timers was never allowed to materialise.
With Fax on top in the middle, and Murrell’s kicking game ruthlessly pinning his former club deep in their own half, KR had no way back.
Tyrer added a penalty on 50 minutes after Cahalane had been fouled and when the superb Simon Grix was clattered in the final seconds, the centre stepped up again to seal a hugely significant victory.
Halifax: Sharp; Heaton, Barber, Tyrer, Worrincy; Murrell, Johnston; Morris, Moore, Boyle, Grady, Cahalane, Grix. Substitutes: Mammone, Sio, Fairbank, Kaye
Hull KR: Quinlan; Moss, Minns, Cockayne, Shaw; Ellis, Atkin; Scruton, Addy, Greenwood, Blair, Clark, Kavanagh. Substitutes: Docker-Clay, Clarkson, Marsh, Johnson
Referee: T. Grant (RFL).