Rugby: Halifax overcome the elements

Halifax 30 Huddersfield 6
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The Independent Online
HALIFAX celebrated the start of their new life at The Shay yesterday with a victory that continues their most encouraging opening to the Super League season.

Even on a foul night there was a gratifyingly large crowd at the stadium the club will share with its football neighbours, although Halifax, despite the confidence engendered by their win at London last weekend, made heavy weather of it in the first half before pulling clear in the second.

Forced to reorganise by the loss of their scrum-half, Gavin Clinch, and with the rain, sleet and snow in their faces, Halifax could not establish any early superiority.

Clinch had given them the lead, wriggling through from close range after five minutes, but Huddersfield, with their veteran stand-off Phil Vivers playing particularly well, soon hit back. It was Vivers' lovely break and pass that set up Matt Sturm for their try.

The first action of their player-coach, Garry Schofield, after bringing himself on was to concede the penalty that gave Halifax the lead once again.

He later had the equally galling experience for a man of his seniority of booting the ball half the length of the field and touching down, only to be brought back for an earlier knock on.

By that time, the home side were further ahead, thanks to Fereti Tuilagi slithering out of a couple of tackles on his way to the try line.

After the interval, with the elements at their backs, Halifax were always destined to build on their lead.

Their big pack, led impressively by Karl Harrison, thrived on the steadily worsening conditions and began to dominate matters completely. Their only alarm came when Damien Gibson's tackle stopped Schofield near the try line.

A British stand-off of a different generation - although he spent much of the game at scrum-half - was now exerting an important influence on proceedings, Chris Chester twice providing inviting passes to send Martin Moana over the line. In between those efforts, Martin Pearson, who also kicked five goals, burrowed over from short range.

There had, not unexpectedly, been a few teething problems associated with the move to a new home, but on the field Halifax had looked pretty well-organised.

Halifax: Pearson; Tuilagi, Gibson, Bouveng, Powell, Chester, Clinch, Harrison, Rowley, Skerrett, Mercer, Baldwin, Moana. Substitutes used: O'Loughlin, Marshall, Clark, Gillespie.

Huddersfield: Arnold; Belle, Weston, Loughlin, Hanger, Vivers, Orr, Harmon, Russell, Neill, Wittenberg, Fozzard, Sturm. Substitutes used: Barton, Schofield, Jackson, Richards.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).

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