Rugby League: Revitalised Halifax in top form

Halifax 16 St Helens 10
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A REVITALISED Halifax yesterday took their second notable scalp in a week, although missed chances threatened to rob them of the points before they added St Helens to their victims alongside Bradford.

Halifax now stand fourth in Super League - higher than anyone would have predicted for them at this stage of the season - with five wins out of seven.

Not all opponents will be as obliging as an off-colour St Helens, though. "We missed some really glaring chances and you begin to think it's not going to be your day," said the Halifax coach, John Pendlebury, afterwards.

That suspicion first started to grow when Bobbie Goulding's diagonal run sent Paul Sculthorpe over for the game's first try. It did not, however, take Halifax long to equalise, an enterprising passage of play that began with Daio Powell clearing his own lines, ending with Martin Moana getting his pass away for Fereti Tuilagi to score in the corner.

If Halifax's ability to attack from deep in their own half was invigorating, it was rarely matched by their finishing. A number of chances had come and gone before Goulding, Karle Hammond and Paul Newlove released Anthony Sullivan for a converted try immediately before half-time. Chris Chester managed his only goal from four attempts to narrow the gap early in the second half, but try-scoring opportunities continued to be spurned until Gavin Clinch's pass allowed the outstanding Moana to dummy his way through in the 53rd minute.

Martin Pearson, brought off the bench partly for his kicking, landed the conversion and two penalties which gave Halifax their ultimate margin of victory.

Penblebury concluded that his side had won without playing as well as they can. "But that says a lot for the character in the side," he said. "The level of desire is very high."

Saints' Shaun McRae could not claim the same. Apart from a worrying sternum injury suffered by Sculthorpe, McRae ended the afternoon concerned about a lack of real hunger and urgency in his team.

"They still have the ideology that there are only two or three clubs entitled to beat us," he said. "But it isn't like that anymore and when they get rid of that egocentic view they will be a better team."

Halifax: Bloem; Tuilagi, Gibson, Bouveng, Powell; Chester, Clinch; Harrison, Rowley, Skerrett, Mercer, Clark, Moana. Substitutes used: Pearson, Marshall, Gillespie. Substitute not used: Marns.

St Helens: Atcheson; C Smith, D Smith, Newlove, Sullivan; Long, Goulding, Goldspink, Cunningham, O'Neill, Joynt, Sculthorpe, Hammond. Substitutes used: Perelini, Davidson, Haigh, Martyn.

Referee: R Connolly (Wigan).

l The Sheffield Eagles captain, Paul Broadbent, will face a club fine if he is confirmed as the player whose dissent conceded the penalty that sent his side to a 24-23 defeat by the Super League leaders, Leeds, on Saturday.

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