Despite scoring three tries in eight minutes in the second half to overturn a big deficit and lead with only six minutes to play, Featherstone Rovers failed to end their losing run at the Summer Bash.
Two late tries by Ben Johnston and Scott Murrell ensured that Rovers lost for a fourth time at the Betfred Championship’s showpiece event at Blackpool as they went down 24-18.
Defeat certainly looked on the cards after a poor first-half display that saw Halifax open up a 14-0 lead.
But the game turned on its head after the break and Featherstone may well have been celebrating victory had Gareth Hock not unluckily lost the ball over the line for a try that would have taken them two scores ahead into the last 10 minutes.
It was Halifax on top in the first half and they showed their intentions from the start with a Murrell 40-20 kick in the second minute, although nothing came of the following pressure.
However, Halifax did open the scoring on nine minutes when Murrell got on the end of a well-judged grubber kick to score beneath the uprights. Steve Tyrer added the conversion.
Shane Grady then chased a kick-through only to fumble it going for the try, the video referee confirming.
The relief was only temporary for Rovers as Halifax spread the ball wide and Tyrer went over in the corner.
He added the conversion then kicked a penalty to make it 14-0 and that was how it stayed to half-time.
Both sides lost a player for 10 minutes early in the second half as Mitch Clark and Dan Fleming were sin-binned after a small fracas.
It seemed to fire up Featherstone and they put their first points on the board when Hock powered over the line, taking three defenders with him. Ian Hardman added the conversion from bang in front. It got even better for John Duffy’s men as Anthony Thackeray produced a strong finish from Matty Wildie pass.
Hardman goaled to reduce the arrears to two points.
From the next attack Wildie came up with an individual effort as he weaved his way over through three tackles. Hardman’s conversion put Rovers 18-14 ahead.
Rovers were then given the advantage of an extra man for 10 minutes after Halifax’s Tyrer was sin-binned for a cynical trip on Keal Carlile on 66 minutes. From the resulting attacking set it looked like Fev had scored again as Hock barged over, but replays showed he had lost the ball over the line and the video referee’s decision went against Rovers.
It was to prove crucial as six minutes from time Halifax threw the ball about and Johnston backed up a break by Quentin Togagae to go over for a try. Grady’s goal made it 20-18.
Murrell then touched down his own kick-through for another score two minutes from time. Tyrer’s kick hit the post to leave just six points between the teams, but Featherstone couldn’t get the ball back from the restart and it was all over.
Featherstone Rovers: Hardman; Briscoe, Hardcastle, Newman, Robinson; Holmes, Thackeray; Wheeldon, Carlile, Knowles, Lockwood, Davies, Moore. Subs: Wildie, Hock, Brooks, Clark.
Halifax: Togagae; Saltonstall, Barber, Tyrer, Sharp; Murrell, Johnston; Fairbank, Kaye, Tangata, Grady, Butler, Grix. Subs: Moore, Morris, Fleming, Maher.
Referee: Tom Grant.
Veteran half-back Paul Sykes proved the difference in the Summer Bash Heavy Woollen derby in Blackpool.
There was little to separate the sides, though Batley had the better of the first half and led 12-6 at half-time. Both crossed the opposition whitewash for three tries in total, but it was a fourth two-pointer from Sykes that proved decisive. James Harrison, Reis Butterworth and Joel Farrell touched down for the Bulldogs, whith Farrell landing three conversions.
Aaron Brown, Sam Day and Daniel Igbinedion claimed the four-pointers for Dewsbury.
In League One, on Saturday, Hunslet made light work of basement side West Wales Raiders, running out 86-0 victors.
Hunslet are eighth on the League One ladder on 12 points, two adrift of five teams locked on 14 points up to third in the table.