Halifax all at sea as Sailor leads the rout

Halifax 10 Brisbane Broncos 54
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The Independent Online
The Australian Test threequarters Steve Renouf and Wendell Sailor put sorry Halifax to the sword as Brisbane last night predictably booked a home World Club Championship quarter-final against St Helens or Paris.

Renouf grabbed a classy first-half hat-trick of tries and went on to equal his own club record of four in a match.

But the star of a one-sided show was winger Sailor, who scored three tries - the second a brilliant, solo 60-yard effort - and constantly tormented the Blue Sox defence with his powerful bursts.

Poor Halifax, humiliated 76-0 in Brisbane in June, performed bravely, but were simply outclassed by arguably the best team in the world.

They managed to breach the Broncos' try line - a feat that even Wigan failed to do in 160 minutes' play - when winger Fereti Tuilagi intercepted Gorden Tallis' pass seven minutes into the second half and raced 50 metres to the line.

But they could do little to halt the Brisbane machine - and Renouf in particular - and suffered more injury agony, losing British Lions winger John Bentley with 10 minutes from the end. The injury was later diagnosed as damaged rib cartilage and he is expected to be out for three to four weeks. Starting without six first-team regulars, the Blue Sox also lost their inspirational captain Karl Harrison and full-back Craig Dean as injuries hit them hard.

Brisbane, who needed to win by 13 points to make sure of the top spot in Australasia pool A, had secured their initial target by half-time when they led 20-0. The Australian hard-man Gorden Tallis had opened his side's account as early as the fifth minute and, as fatigue and injuries took their toll, fellow forwards Shane Webcke and John Plath added late tries to pile on the woe.

At least Halifax had the final word, with loan signing Kevin O'Loughlin marking his full debut with an injury-time try, goaled by Martin Pearson. But, after conceding 340 points in their six matches, they will be glad to see the back of this event.

n Shaun McRae, the St Helens coach, wore a broad smile for the first time in the World Club Championship after his side's 32-26 defeat against Penrith Panthers yesterday. The six-point loss means Saints stay fourth on points difference and take part in a play-off against the Pool B winners, Paris St-Germain, at Knowsley Road on Wednesday week to decide who will play Brisbane in the quarter-finals.