Halifax 38, Cougars 6

COUGARS capitulated during a second-half horror show which saw Halifax deservedly take the derby honours tonight.

In the final game of Paul March’s two-month stadium ban, Cougars largely bossed the first half but only had club captain James Feather’s early try to show for it.

Karl Harrison’s men hit back through Jack Spencer’s score before the break and Scott Murrell’s conversion meant Cougars trailed 6-4 at the interval.

Instead of building on their excellent first-half performance, Cougars allowed Halifax to take the match by the scruff of the neck and they were duly punished.

Harrison’s side ran in six second-half scores to put a dent in Cougars’ play-off hopes and moved into second place in the Championship.

Although missing former Halifax man Danny Jones with a hamstring strain, which meant Paul White played in the halves, Cougars were boosted by the return of prop Andy Shickell.

With Paul Handforth exerting a telling influence on proceedings against his old club, Cougars began asking some serious questions of their hosts.

They forced Halifax to drop out and soon led through Feather in the 14th minute, which was no more than they deserved.

The skipper collected possession 20 metres from acting half and showed outstanding strength and speed to surge through the Halifax defence and dive over the line to the right of the posts.

Handforth failed to convert and three minutes later Cougars fashioned another decent move when Danny Lawton and James Craven combined to find Richie Barnett but he could only knock on.

Cougars brought on Shickell and Jode Sheriffe for Brendon Rawlins and Sean Hesketh midway through the half but Halifax began to gain the upper hand as the interval approached.

In the 35th minute, Sam Brooks broke Cougars’ line through the middle and sent Spencer barrelling under the posts.

Luke Haigh injured a leg in the process of attempting to tackle Spencer and, after treatment, he was held off the field.

Murrell’s goal made it 6-4 at half-time but, after a penalty from Lawton levelled the scores, Halifax began to move through the gears and took complete control of the second half.

Prop Tony Tonks crashed over from close range and then Luke Adamson sent centre Adam Robinson powering clear.

It went from bad to worse for Cougars as former Leeds prop Luke Ambler outmuscled the Keighley defence to score a fourth home try in the 57th minute.

Murrell, who enjoyed a fine game, then took a neat pass to score himself on the hour.

The pain increased for Cougars when Ross Divorty burst through a gap to score and their misery was complete when Tommy Saxton touched down in the left corner.

Cougars: Craven, Barnett, Lawton, Haley, Williams, White, Handforth, Rawlins, Feather, Hesketh, Lynam, Pursglove, Lindsay Interchange: Shickell, Sheriffe, Sagar, Haigh.

Halifax: Fieldhouse, Fox, Robinson, Casey, Saxton, Murrell, Mennell, Tonks, Kaye, Ambler, Adamson, Divorty, Bracek Interchange: Johnston, Holden, Brooks, Spencer