Following yesterdays parting of ways with coach Richad Marshall, Halifax had to travel to the 2019 Championship surprise package, the Sheffield Eagles, desperate for a win to give their play-off hopes a boost. Simon Grix had temporarily taken over the reigns against the experience of Mark Aston.
Halifax had Scott Murrell and Chester Butler back in their side while Sheffield gave a debut to London Broncos dual-registration player Nathan Mason off the bench.
A forty-two point victory would put the Eagles up to second as they strive for a return to Super League for the first time since the merger experiment twenty years ago. For Halifax, a loss would signal a mountain to climb to achieve a play off position.
A mistake from Sheffield led to the first try on three minutes when Chester Butler went through a gap before finding Ed Barber to score, going over in the corner and grounding behind the sticks. Steve Tyrer added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
A near hundred metre try from Aaron Brown was Sheffield’s first real attack as the Eagles centre intercepted a Scott Murrell pass. Pat Walker added the conversion to level the scores.
A late hit in the tackle gifted the Eagles a penalty just twenty-five from the sticks and Walker kicked the two to put the home side ahead.
James Davey picked up the seond Sheffield try on twenty-five when he scooted from acting half back to weave through the Halifax defence and ground for a trademark hookers try. Walker added the conversion for 14-6, a complete turnaround of fortunes.
Murrell made it 10-14 after a period of relentless pressure on the Eagles line. A quick play of the ball saw Murrell dart for the line to ground. Tyrer added the extras, the margin back to two points with eight minutes of the half remaining.
Two minutes later James Woodburn-Hall put the visitors ahead after being supplied by a break from Quentin Laulu-Togagae and a pass from Shaun Robinson. Tyrer added the conversion for 18-14.
It was end to end stuff as Ryan Millar scored a spectacular try to level the scores after a delightful one-two with James Glover down the left touchline. Walker added a touchline conversion and again the Eagles had a two point lead at 20-18.
It was a humdinger of a game.
A pinpoint high kick from Murrell was missed by a back-pedalling Ryan Miller who fell backwards over rthe line allowing the chasing Butler to collect the ball and score a simple try. Tyrer added the conversion, Halifax now 24-20 ahead.
A Tyrer penalty for an obstruction on fifty-four extended the margin to six points.
The try of the afternoon came on fifty-seven from Ben Blackmore who broke down the right wing, chipped over the top and then won the race to collect the ball and ground. Walker was unable to add the conversion, the Eagles still two points adrift.
Sheffield went over through Brown on seventy but the referee pulled play back for a forward pass and two minutes later the ‘Fax defence held Davey up over the line on the last tackle.
The game was won in the dying seconds when Laulu-Togagae put Chester Butler through a gap for 30-24. Tyrer added the conversion for his sixth of the afternoon to seal an eight points win.
Halifax managed to survive the Sheffield onslaught and as the Eagles started to play some panic football in the closing minutes the mistakes gifted possession and position to their opponents. The difference between the two sides was the boot of Scott Murrell who had a tremendous game and who sealed the win for the visitors.
Eagles: Guzdek, Millar (T), Glover, Brown (T), Blackmore (T), Walker (4G), Thackeray, Moran, Burns, Dixon, Farrell, Davies, James. Subs: Mason, Tagg, Esslemont, Davey (T).
Halifax: Laulu-Togagae, Robinson, Tyrer (6G), Butler (2T), Sharp, Murrell (T), Woodburn-Hall (T), Morris, Moore, Kavanagh, Larroyer, Barber (T), Fairbank. Subs: Fleming, Connor Davies, Curtis Davies, Chapman-Smith.
Referee: Brian Pearson.