To the surprise of many, Halifax have started relatively slow in this season’s Championship, losing two out of their first four encounters. It doesn’t get any easier for Richard Marshall’s men as they travel down to the Trailfinders Sports Ground to take on London Broncos this weekend.
Last Time Out
London escaped from Cumbria with two points in the bag after a nervy 16-13 victory over Workington Town. The half-time score was 6-6 following tries from London’s James Cunningham and Jarrod Sammut of Workington. In the second half, the hosts took the lead through Sammut who bagged his second try of the game in his first outing for Workington in 2016. Unfortunately for the Maltese international, it wasn’t to be a happy return to action as the Broncos scored two consecutive tries to go in front. Rhys Williams and Matt Garside both crossed the whitewash during the final quarter but, with time running out, Sammut kicked a drop goal to cut the deficit to three points. Further attacks by the hosts proved fruitless and London came away with the win.
Similar to London’s game against Workington, Halifax played their part in a close encounter but were on the wrong end of the end result. A Batley side brimming with confidence came to The Shay and won 17-12 despite the hosts going in front on two separate occasions before and after the half-time interval. The first try of the game went to Fax back-rower Dane Manning but Batley replied with all the right answers as Alex Bretherton touched down. Dom Brambani converted the score and added a penalty goal soon after to put the Bulldogs 8-6 up at the half. In the opening stages of the second period, Gareth Moore regained the advantage for Halifax as the home crowd got behind their side and tried to rally them to a big victory. That wasn’t to be the case though as Brambani, who was at the heart of every Bulldogs attack, muscled his way to a big four pointer. The conversion to put the visitors back in front was successful, as well as a late Pat Walker penalty goal. Brambani slotted over a drop goal in the last minute for good measure as Batley, once again, proved the critics wrong and Halifax were left to lick their wounds.
With many great positional battles taking place in Ealing on Sunday, it’s hard to pinpoint one big battle but the matchup between the centres will be a good one to watch out for. Elliot Kear and Ben Hellewell bring a handy mix of power and pace to the side, as well as a strong running game that can tear up a lacklustre defence. Kear and Hellewell both played in the match against Workington in round four but neither player got on the scoresheet. Ben Heaton and Steve Tyrer took to the field in the centres for Halifax in their all West Yorkshire tie against Batley. Heaton has been a revelation under Fax coach Richard Marshall while Tyrer has become one of the most consistent performers in the Championship. The contest between London and Halifax as a whole should be one of the best in the division this weekend, as will the battle of the centres.
Home advantage will be key to London’s success under Andrew Henderson this year, as the club looks to build a platform to the next level via Trailfinders Sports Ground. These sort of matches, against teams like Halifax who will undoubtedly be knocking on the door of the top four, will be highlighted by the coaching staff as ‘must-wins’ even this early on in the season. Halifax have got off to a sketchy start but will be looking to rise up the ladder as the year goes on. A win over full-time opposition would help their cause significantly but they will be put to the test by an improved Broncos side – London by 8