Handforth’s drop-goal proves crucial giving Halifax victory over Keighley

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A SECOND-half drop-goal from veteran stand-off Paul Handforth sealed the tensest of derby victories as Halifax made it four wins from four starts against Keighley at The Shay.

The home side took the lead after nine minutes, hooker and captain Sean Penkywicz exchanging passes with forward Adam Robinson before sliding in a kick for half-back Anthony Thackeray to touch down.

Wing Lee Paterson converted for a 6-0 advantage, but the Cougars were level almost immediately when back-row Richard Jones pounced by the posts and Danny Jones, former Halifax stand-off, kicked the goal.

Halifax regained the lead when Penkywicz worked the short side for centre Steve Tyrer to score, Paterson again on target.

But Cougars, who arguably had the better of the second quarter, ensured the scores were level at half-time when Danny Jones scored a try and kicked the goal.

The second half was tense throughout, with neither defence conceding ground easily.

There were 13 minutes remaining when Halifax half-back Handforth took out the insurance of the one-pointer from 25 metres out to put his side 13-12 ahead.

The home side had a clear cut chance immediately, Thackeray splitting the defence but losing the ball in the act of scoring.

It hardly mattered, as the home side wound down the clock in clinical fashion, keeping Keighley at arms reach until the final whistle.

Halifax: Fieldhouse; Reittie, Tyrer, Heaton, Paterson; Handforth, Thackeray; Ambler, Penkywicz, Gannon, Manning, Robinson, Ashall. Substitutes: Casey, Divorty, Chandler, Aizue

Keighley: Moss; Barnett, Haythornthwaite, Lawton, Tadulala; Jones, Obst; Korkidas, Feather, Cherryholme, Pursglove, Jones, March. Substitutes: Davey, Demetriou, Shickell, Sheriffe.

Referee: Jamie Leahy.