Rugby League: Halifax take advantage of Cook's error

Halifax 28 Huddersfield 8
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HALIFAX eventually beat their neighbours comfortably enough in this Silk Cup Challenge Cup fourth-round tie yesterday, but both sides will look back on a blunder shortly before half- time as the turning point.

Huddersfield had played marginally the more controlled rugby of a scrappy, niggling first half when their England international full-back, Paul Cook, made a mess of Paul Rowley's low kick towards the wing.

Instead of making it safe, Cook only succeeded in deflecting the ball into the hands of Fereti Tuilagi, who went over to bring Halifax level. Martin Pearson then landed the conversion from the touchline to give them an undeserved interval lead.

A match littered with penalties and departures to the sin-bin had seen Huddersfield in front by virtue of a try by Ben Barton midway through the first half. It was just about the first occasion on which the ball had been moved wide with any purpose, Chris Orr and Danny Russell handling well to put the centre in.

If Halifax could count themselves fortunate to be ahead, they took full advantage after the break. Their new scrum-half, Gavin Clinch, served up the short pass for his fellow Australian, Des Clark, to power over and when Martin Moana's strong break set up the position from which Clinch supplied David Bouveng, the match was effectively decided in their favour.

Huddersfield, elevated to Super League for the coming season and showing that there is still much work to be done on sharpening up their attack, had their chances to get back into the game, but neither Danny Arnold nor Craig Weston could find the available man on the outside after making potentially telling breaks.

Instead, with another penalty Pearson edged Halifax further ahead and, in injury time, his kick through bounced up for Tuilagi to claim his second try. Pearson put over his fifth goal to complete the scoring.

A 20-point winning margin flattered an effort that was, at best, hard working and competent.

"It was a workmanlike performance," said the Halifax coach, John Pendlebury, relieved not to be one of only two Super League clubs to go out at this fourth-round stage.

"I was satisfied with our defensive effort. After the pressure in the first half we came in happy not to have conceded anymore points. We took our chances but they missed a couple of theirs and we are just pleased to be in the hat for the next round."

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

Huddersfield: Cook; Cheetham, Weston, Barton, Arnold; Booth, Orr; Harmon, Russell, Wittenberg, King, Bowes, Sturm. Substitutes used: Belle, Berry, Jackson, Milner.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).