IT IS not often any rugby player gets the opportunity to break a world record.
Hull KR’s Jamie Ellis had just that yesterday but the prolific goalkicker got “the yips” at the crucial moment.
The on-loan Huddersfield Giants scrum-half slotted his opening four kicks against Halifax to level Liam Finn’s feat of 41 successive goals, set when playing for Featherstone Rovers in 2012.
Ellis was then given a glorious chance to stand out on his own with a relatively simple penalty in the 66th minute, around 25m out and just to the left of the posts, but agonisingly he miscued.
It mattered little in terms of an absorbing contest as he found his range again soon after, when Jacob Fairbank was sin-binned for a late shoulder charge on James Donaldson, to finally see off KR’s gutsy opponents.
Rovers head coach Tim Sheens admitted: “It’s one of those things, like a golfer putting for the win who gets the yips.
“He got the yips on it, I suppose, if that’s the best way of putting it.
“He pulled it. He tried to make sure it went dead as it was a penalty and not a conversion and in doing so you always pull it. But that’s an old prop forward talking.
“But he kicked his next two so he’s two on the way to doing it again isn’t he? At the moment, though, he must be on a successful rate of 90 per cent or close to that and that’s all I want.
“The records come and go. If they are there they are there but to us it’s about keeping that percentage high as they are going to be important for us to make sure if we’re going to compete in big games at the end of the year.”
On the subject of percentages, Rovers maintained their 100 per cent winning start to life in the Championship but this was arguably their toughest contest yet since relegation.
Indeed, part-timers Halifax led 14-8 at the break, their expressive offloading game causing the hosts no end of problems with former Hull FC full-back Will Sharp in devastating attacking form.
Admittedly, they eventually tired in the second period as Rovers improved both their ball control and defence while Ellis also fired one 40/20 kick.
But it was not until Jordan Abdull supported the excellent Shaun Lunt to scramble over in the 62nd minute that Sheens’ side finally took control, the visitors made to regret a couple of missed first half opportunities.
“It was about just controlling the football,” he added, when asked what was said at half-time.
“We just needed to go out and complete some sets and get into the game.
“I told them right from the start that to break this side down we needed to be better than we’ve been this year, and I was proven right.
“I don’t think they believe the coach sometimes, but I think the scoreline certainly helped sway them to my way of thinking.
“At the moment it’s a lesson learned and luckily it didn’t cost us any points.”
Hull KR have now won eight successive games this year but they were frustrated for large periods here.
There was no score for the opening 15 minutes before Ellis and Ste Tyrer swapped penalties.
However, Halifax secured the first try of the contest with Gareth Moore crabbing across the line before sending Shane Grady through on a lovely line in the 29th minute, Tyrer converting.
Rovers responded when Maurice Blair busted through Scott Murrell’s tackle.
However, the former Hull KR favourite made up for that error by directing a perfect crossfield kick for winger James Saltonstall to rise above an embarrassed Kieren Moss to score Halifax’s second try just before the break, Tyrer again adding the extras.
The home side clearly benefitted from their half-time team-talk, though, and re-emerged in far more clinical style.
Ironically, it was Sharp whose mistake proved costly, dropping Jordan Abdull’s hanging kick for James Greenwood to mop up and go over, Ellis levelling the game in the 55th minute.
Greenwood departed soon after following a head knock, fellow forward Ben Kavanagh also being injured in a similar fashion earlier on.
But Abdull came up with the decisive score and Kieren Moss added another at the death from Ben Cockayne’s cut-out pass.
Ellis, of course, converted from out on the touchline. Typical.
“In the first half with our offload game, everything stuck and there was lots of energy,” said Halifax coach Richard Marshall.
“If we’re honest, we couldn’t sustain that for the whole 80 and that was probably the difference.
“But we probably see it as two points lost. We weren’t fazed coming here; they’ve racked a few scores up but we wanted to come and play our game. We did that for 50 minutes but they are a Super League team.”
Hull KR: Cockayne; Moss, Minns, Heffernan, Shaw; Abdull, Ellis; Scruton, Lunt, Kavanagh, Blair, Greenwood, Donaldson. Substitutes: Clarkson, Salter, Mulhern, Addy.
Halifax: Sharp; Saltonstall, Tyrer, Woodburn-Hall, Bibby; Murrell, Moore; Boyle, Kaye, Cahalane, Grady, Grix, Fairbank. Substitutes: Barber, Morris, Wood, Tangata.
Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham)