Rugby League: Skerrett helps turn tables for Halifax

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The Independent Online
Halifax 30 Hull 16

COACHES are fond of saying that rugby league is now a 17-man game and the truth of that has rarely been better illustrated than at The Shay last night.

High-flying Halifax were trailing to an impressive Hull performance when two personnel changes transformed the game completely.

First Kelvin Skerrett returned to the fray and with his first touch got a marvellous pass away for Chris Chester to score, then five minutes later Martin Pearson made a break, Damian Gibson backed up and threw a pass inside for Jamie Bloem, whose first contribution after coming on as a substitute was to touch down.

From that point, Halifax were destined to maintain the impressive run that has taken them into the top four of Super League, and into a qualifying position for the play-offs, but it had not looked likely that they would maintain their League momentum in the first half.

With their pack taking charge and their new loan signing, Craig Murdock, linking well with Gary Lester, Hull were thoroughly dangerous and deservedly out-scored Halifax by two tries to one, their first created for Alan Hunte by Lester and the second a result of David Baildon's breathtaking run down the right wing.

They should have had more of a cushion than six points at the break, but Brad Hepi lost the ball over the line.

They were not far into the second half before they had extra cause to regret that miss, Chester hoisting a high kick and Fereti Tuilagi putting Gibson over for his second try and Pearson's conversion bringing Halifax level.

Even with Jason Temu in the sin-bin, Hull edged their way back into the lead through Jamie Smith's penalty. But then came that double impact from the bench and a soft try to Gary Mercer made Halifax's final margin look clear-cut.

It will not make a losing streak that now stands at seven games any more palatable to Hull to know that they looked so capable of ending it for much of the evening.

Halifax: Pearson; Tuilagi, Gibson, Boveng, Powell, Chester, Clinch, Harrison, Rowley, Skerrett, Mercer, Gillespie, Moana. Subs: Clark, Baldwin, Marshall, Bloem.

Hull: Prescott; Seru, Baildon, Hunte, Smith, Lester, Murdock, Temu, Hepi, Okesene, Schultz, Barrow, Campbell. Subs: Craven, Leatham, Radford, Stephenson.

Referee: S Danson (St Helens).