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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Haven’s recent revival ends with defeat at Fax

WHITEHAVEN’S recent revival suffered a setback in West Yorkshire on Sunday as title-chasing Halifax cantered to a comfortable victory. Halifax: Miles Greenwood; James Haley, Jon Goddard, Mike Ratu, Lee Greenwood; Graham Holroyd, Ben Black; Paul Southern, Thomas Coyle, Joe Walsh, Paul Smith, Richard Varkulis, Shad Royston. Subs: Sean Penkywicz, Mark Flanagan, Danny Heaton, Frank Watene

carlruddhalifaxpic
Star man: Carl Rudd, who performed well in defeat on Sunday against Halifax

After big wins over Salford and Featherstone, tries from centres Rob Jackson and Saia Makisi and loose-forward Spencer Miller never looked like being enough against a Halifax side who have scored an average of 39 points a game so far in National League One.

But Ged Stokes’ side will be far from downcast after a courageous effort that spoke volumes for their revival under the former Town supremo.

This was certainly no repeat of the Northern Rail Cup hiding that Haven suffered at The Shay earlier in the year, when Fax, inspired by veteran stand-off Graham Holroyd, ran riot from start to finish.

Haven’s pack certainly stood comparison with their hosts, constantly threatening the Yorkshiremen down the middle of the field.

The big difference between the sides was at the business end of the field, where the home team had far more attacking options than their visitors, despite the tireless efforts of Carl Rudd, back in the Haven side after injury and at the heart of their best work when going forward.

Even teenage prodigy Gregg McNally found the going tough on his third senior start as the Fax defence worked hard to close him down.

Halifax had made a bright start and took the early lead through winger Lee Greenwood, who dived in after centre Mike Ratu’s charge forced Haven pair Rob Jackson and Craig Calvert on to the back foot.

Holroyd’s conversion was blown well wide by the strong wind that hampered both sides’ attempts at open rugby.

But Fax doubled their lead on 13 minutes after a bizarre piece of refereeing from Frenchman Thierry Alibert – who ruled that Gary Broadbent had taken Holroyd’s kick dead in goal – paved the way for ex-Super League forward Paul Smith to touchdown.

Haven were enjoying plenty of possession, but struggled to turn it into points until the 28th minute, when Makisi took advantage after Adebisi knocked down Rudd’s finely judged cross field bomb. The stand-off missed the conversion and, before they could draw breath, Haven found themselves further behind, home back-rower Richard Varkulis scoring one try and making another for Ben Black in the minutes before half time and Holroyd kicking Fax into a 20-4 lead.

Whatever Stokes said at the break clearly roused his troops, with Jackson going over from Rudd’s pass within a couple of minutes of the restart, the stand-off tagging on the extras for 20-10.

Another try then and Haven would have been right in the game, but Ratu’s interception got Fax rolling forward again and on loan Wigan forward Mark Flanagan scored from Holroyd’s kick into the in-goal.

It was all going wrong for the visitors now, with Smith grabbing a second before Flanagan started and finished a move down the Haven left to put the game out of reach at 38-10.

If Haven had clocked off at that point, with a quarter of the game still remaining, it could have turned into a rout.

But the Recre oufit are made of stern stuff just at the moment and rallied bravely, loose-forward Spencer Miller grabbing a deserved consolation effort from McNally’s pass 14 minutes from time.

Tries: Smith (2), Flanagan (2), Greenwood, Black, Varkulis

Goals: Holroyd (5)

Whitehaven: Gary Broadbent; Craig Calvert, Rob Jackson, Saia Makisi, Ade Adebisi; Carl Rudd, Gregg McNally; Karl Edmondson, Graeme Mattinson, Ryan MacDonald, Howard Hill, Scott McAvoy, Spencer Miller. Subs: Carl Sice, David Ford, Andy Gorski, Marc Jackson

Tries: Miller, Makisi, R Jackson

Goals: Rudd

Referee: Thierry Alibert (Toulouse)

Attendance: 2,160

Star man: Carl Rudd

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