Rugby League: Fairbank finds regal touch

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The Independent Online
Bradford Northern. . . . . . . . . . . .16

Halifax . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

A TRY three minutes from time by Karl Fairbank steered Bradford Northern to victory in a delicately balanced Regal Trophy tie at Odsal last night, writes Dave Hadfield.

Fairbank's try, taking advantage of uncharacteristically slack tackling in a match marked by tight defence, assured Bradford of a trip to London Crusaders in the quarter-finals on Sunday.

Bradford had always looked the more likely side to go through once Steve McGowan had equalised an early Halifax try by John Bentley. Halifax's try had been a little fortunate, Brimah Kebbie fumbling a kick from Michael Hagan for

Michael Jackson to recover possession and feed Bentley, while Bradford's was the product of their generally superior handling, David Heron's long pass opening the way for McGowan.

Midway through the second half, that suspicion seemed a certainty when Paul Newlove, the young Great Britain centre who was the game's outstanding performer, intercepted a pass from Steve Lay to sprint 70 yards for a try which Deryck Fox converted from wide on the left.

Lay went a long way to making up for that error when he was the man to cross the line for Halifax after a remarkable spell of sustained pressure that saw the ball pass through countless pairs of hands.

Kicking into the fierce wind, John Schuster could not add the conversion that would have put the scores level and Bradford's extra power in attack finally saw them safe.

Bradford Northern: Watson; Cordle, McGowan (Clark, 43), Newlove, Kebbie (McGowan, 72); Heron, Fox; Hobbs (Grayshon, 40), Medley, Hamer, Powell, Dixon, Fairbank.

Halifax: Lay; Bentley, Schuster, Hallas (Sharp, 68), Preston; Hagan, Robinson; Fieldhouse (Perrett, 55), Lawless, Lord, Jackson, Boyd, Divorty.

Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).