PROLIFIC Craig Hall scored four first-half tries to take Hull KR a step closer towards Super League safety but it was part-timers Halifax who finished with most of the acclaim.
The rangy winger, making his 250th career appearance, has been a revelation since joining from Leigh Centurions in July, returning in style for his second spell with the East Yorkshire club.
He has scored 11 tries in just five games, crossing at least once in all of them, and produced just what Tim Sheens required.
However, his head coach was displeased after seeing his side race into a 24-0 lead inside just 26 minutes only to be pegged back by gritty Championship foes.
Halifax had only scored three tries in their previous four-and-a-half hours of winless Qualifiers football but then grabbed four in just 34 minutes in the second half here.
It was the least they deserved for their effort, dedication and persistence while they did so largely without talismanic Scott Murrell, the former KR stand-off who suffered a suspected broken thumb in the very first set but battled on until the 46th minute.
Certainly, this was a warning to Rovers who must perform better when London Broncos – a full-time Championship side who have beaten Super League Widnes Vikings – arrive Saturday.
Furthermore, a third victory from four Qualifiers outings came at a significant cost.
Influential Australian full-back Adam Quinlan – who had the assist for all five first-half tries – suffered a suspected torn anterior cruciate ligament that will rule him out for much of 2019.
Powerful winger Justin Carney, who announced only on Thursday this will be his final season of professional rugby league as he heads home to New South Wales, limped off with a recurring ankle injury that could spell the end of his career.
Finally, prop Mase Masoe suffered a head knock that will rule him out for at least one week, too.
Sheens conceded his side must now try and “reinvent” themselves without Quinlan who is so key in their attacking plan.
Much of Hall’s success yesterday was down to the work of the stellar 25-year-old who had the last pass for all of the former Hull man’s quartet and also latched onto Danny McGuire’s clever inside pass to break free and grubber ahead for James Greenwood’s try in the 16th minute.
That tactic – the ball back on the inside – fooled Halifax on a number of occasions, most stylishly earlier on when Joel Tomkins provided a lovely pass to unleash Quinlan, Hall finishing off.
Hall scored his first after just seven minutes when Quinlan started showcasing his skills with a cutting long pass that saw the winger walk in at the corner. The 30-year-old completed his treble inside just 18 minutes but had to work harder for that one.
As the former Toronto Wolfpack captain collected yet another Quinlan pass, he stepped inside Ben Heaton but, in the process, was floored by a dangerous high tackle from the wrong-footed Halifax player.
Hall hit the ground but, to his credit, managed to get up and scramble over. Bizarrely, rookie referee Marcus Griffiths did not brandish a card of any colour yet, you sensed, if the Robins star had stayed down, Heaton could easily have been sent-off.
Carney had set up position for that score with a typically forceful break but pulled up injured when finally brought down.
Halifax were again fortunate not to be reduced to 12 men when Jacob Fairbank took down Chris Atkin with a late shoulder charge.
It mattered not; Quinlan produced another perfect pass for Hall to run in again.
However, from thereon in, rather than wilt, Halifax grew in confidence. Frustrating their rivals with an improved and relentless defence, they were able to get some sort of foothold.
They earned reward for their endeavour when Saltonstall crossed in the 44th minute.
Shane Grady improved and it was a sign of their growing presence that Rovers felt the need to resort to taking two points via Hall in the 62nd minute.
Yet that didn’t take the sting out of Halifax who hit straight back with Saltonstall’s second after a fine run from ex-Hull FC winger Will Sharp and quality Chester Butler offload.
Dan Fleming improved and –though Rovers responded with Atkin’s try after Todd Carney’s timely 40/20 and close-range effort from Shaun Lunt – the visitors had the final word with Fleming and Sharp scoring tries.
Hull KR: Quinlan; Hall, Salter, Blair, J Carney; McGuire, Atkin; Masoe, Lunt, Tickle, Greenwood, Tomkins, Clarkson. Substitutes: Vaivai, Kavanagh, Jewitt, T Carney.
Halifax: Woodburn-Hall; Saltonstall, Heaton, Butler, Sharp; Murrell, Johnston; Fleming, Kaye, Jones, Tangata, Grady, Fairbank. Substitutes: Moore, Cooper, Maher, Davies.
Referee: Marcus Griffiths (Widnes).