RUGBY LEAGUE: Holroyd is Halifax's hammer

Halifax Blue Sox 30 Salford Reds 14
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GRAHAM HOLROYD, one of the most significant additions to a Halifax squad that did so well to finish third last time, showed that, at his best, he can make a major contribution to this Super League campaign.

The former Leeds stand-off has not had the easiest of starts in a side struggling for form. Not everything he did came off last night - and he could have been transformed from hero to villain if one of his wilder passes had been punished - but he set up Halifax's first three tries as well as weighing in with five goals.

With two of their most consistent players over the last troubled year, Gary Broadbent and David Hulme, missing through injury, Salford looked even less secure than usual at The Shay.

They had needed some desperate defence, notably from Hudson Smith and Neil Baynes, to keep Halifax at bay and then lost a third of their reliable contingent when Malcolm Alker was also forced off. His replacement, Martin Crompton announced his arrival by triggering the run that ended with Smith and Paul Carige sending Paul Highton over.

It was short-lived lead. Within three minutes, Holroyd had released Jamie Bloem for a try and he then capitalised on the strong running of Paul Broadbent to put Damien Gibson in for another, kicking both conversions for good measure.

Salford came back into it through Carige's break and pass to Garen Casey, who raced away to score, Steve Blakeley again failing narrowly with his conversion.

A minute before half-time, Holroyd's goal kicking put a further two-point cushion between the two sides after Joe Faimalo had been penalised for interfering at the play-the-ball.

Within two minutes of the restart, Holroyd's boot had struck again, his kick to the vacant Salford wing allowing Nick Pinkney to dive in for the try.

A ball spilled by Gibson then gave Salford a lifeline in an increasingly messy game, Crompton following up his own kick to touch down the loose ball. Casey's good conversion brought Salford, almost to their own surprise, to within four points and they could even have gone ahead if Casey had scored after intercepting from Holroyd.

Instead, Broadbent, another winter arrival steadily growing in strength and influence as the game went on, barged out of a tackle and sent Pinkney away for his second try, Paul Rowley's late effort and two more goals from Holroyd ensuring that Salford would remain without a Super League point.

Halifax Blue Sox: Cardiss; Gibson, Bloem, Bouveng, Pinkney; Holroyd, Clinch; Broadbent, Rowley, Marshall, Clark, Gillespie, Randall. Substitutes used: Craig, Hobson, Seal, Hodgson.

Salford Reds: Carige; Martin, Littler, Casey, Thompson; Blakeley, Briggs; Baynes, Alker, Southern, Smith, Morley, Highton. Substitutes used: Crompton, Makin, Bradbury, J Faimalo.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).