Halifax Panthers were dealt a 28-18 defeat by the York Knights in the Betfred Championship clash held at the blustery LNER Community Stadium. Despite initially leading 16-6 during the first half, Fax failed to capitalise on their strong start, leaving head coach Simon Grix disheartened as the Knights claimed victory with two second-half tries.
The Panthers began the match on a high note when James Woodburn-Hall rose above the pack to catch a well-executed crossfield kick from Louis Jouffret, securing a converted try in the fifth minute.
York retaliated promptly, as Oli Field sliced through the Fax defence, then offloaded to James Cunningham, who powered over the line against the run of play, bringing the scores level.
Halifax persisted in their offensive efforts, and after a Chris Clarkson error provided the visitors with a favourable field position, they swiftly moved the ball to the right flank, allowing James Saltonstall to dive unchallenged into the corner. Jouffret narrowly missed the touchline conversion, a difficult task given the adverse wind conditions.
The Panthers continued to extend their lead as Saltonstall crossed the try line for the second time, capitalising on Jouffret’s well-timed pass and showcasing his speed to outpace the attempted tackle. Jouffret successfully converted, solidifying Halifax’s position at 16-6.
However, the Knights, showing no signs of fatigue from their midweek match against Whitehaven, began to chip away at the deficit. Jesse Dee skillfully breached the right edge of the Panthers’ defence, fending off Lachlan Walmsley’s challenge to score a crucial try.
Just before the halftime whistle, York managed to equalise. A lofted pass found Myles Harrison, the young winger darting into the corner, resulting in a 16-16 tie as the hooter sounded.
The second half became a tightly contested battle, with both teams striving to assert their dominance. Halifax exhibited industrious ball movement in their search for an opening, but the Knights’ resolute defence scrambled effectively to keep them at bay.
When Kyle Wood was obstructed near the try line, the Panthers opted for a penalty kick, successfully executed by Jouffret, putting them marginally ahead at 18-16 in this tightly contested affair. However, just two minutes later, the momentum drastically shifted.
Following a fortuitously bouncing last tackle grubber kick, AJ Towse seized the loose ball and sprinted 80 meters to score beneath the posts, altering the entire complexion of the game. Harrison converted, propelling the Knights to a 22-18 lead.
The Panthers persisted in their pursuit of a breakthrough, but errors continually stifled their chances as York executed a flawless territorial game plan. Consecutive penalties allowed the Knights to establish a stronghold near the Fax try line, and in the 75th minute, the hosts delivered the fatal blow.
Myles Harrison darted over the line in the corner, securing his second try of the game and extinguishing any hope of a Panthers comeback. The disappointing result pushed the Panthers down to sixth place in the Betfred Championship standings. The final score stood at York Knights 28 – 18 Halifax Panthers.