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WHITEHAVEN edged out Halifax in a cracking game at the Recreation Ground.
The visitors led for much of the game but faded in the second period as Whitehaven's forwards took control. In Haven's last league outing they were beaten at Doncaster by a side who had old stager Graham Holroyd pulling all the strings so you could have forgiven them if they cursed their luck when they saw the shaven headed stand-off taking to the field in a Halifax jersey for this encounter.Rudd racked up points
And in the early part of the game, just as he had at Doncaster, Holroyd ran the show behind a strong forward pack. It took them just four minutes to register the first try of the match, Richard Varkulis evaded the tackle of David Seeds and then as he was grounded by the covering defence was able to slip the ball out to Marcus George. Tim Hartley converted. If that try prompted a few nervous twitches amongst the Haven faithful then 'Fax's second on 11 minutes had them positively reeling.
This time it was Paul Smith who waltzed through a tackle from Carl Rudd and past to Hartley, who coasted over for a try which he then converted.
It wasn't so much the fact that they had registered two quick scores, but the ease with which they were gaining ground and breaking tackles that must have surprised Halifax's travelling supporters. Halifax were in control but some strong running from David Fatialofa gave the home side decent field position and when Richard Fletcher judged the bounce of John Duffy's grubber perfectly on 16 minutes they had a try of their own to celebrate, which Rudd converted. Haven were now gathering momentum, Rob Jackson broke from his own half on 19 minutes but was hauled down by the last man, full back Damien Gibson. However as 'Fax tried to regroup a Greame Mattinson chip and chase was spilled by Gibson. Mattinson hacked on and Gary Broadbent won the foot race to touch down. Rudd again added the extras, and suddenly Halifax's dominant start had been wiped out. Most of the home support thought that their side would now kick on and win comfortably, but Halifax had other ideas. George made a clear break from his own half and was unfortunate to be tackled by the ever reliable Broadbent. The ball found its way to Holroyd who launched a high bomb which, thankfully for Whitehaven, Seeds was able to defuse. However the danger wasn't over, and the next time Halifax got the ball they made their dominance count. Damien Ball made a clear break and managed to get the ball away to Mark Roberts before he was tackled. Roberts ran clear to score and put the visitors back in front. Hartley again tacked on the two.
On 31 minutes the visitors thought they had scored again, a kick through from Holroyd was pounced on in-goal by Gibson, but the full back was adjudged to have fumbled as he grounded the ball. That mistake was to prove costly as Haven went up the other end of the field and scored themselves, Fletcher finishing off a fine move by Duffy and Carl Sice for a try which Rudd converted to level the scores going into the interval.
The visitors started the second half like they were determined to win the match and not fade away like they did when they took on another promotion contender, Widnes, recently. On 42 minutes they regained the lead. The impressive Frank Watene made huge ground up the middle and, with defenders scrambling, a fine long pass from Holroyd to Lee Greenwood put the winger clear. Greenwood gave the ball back inside to Paul Smith who touched down, and the impressive Hartley knocked over his fourth goal of the afternoon. That could have been the cue for Halifax to go on and win the game, but instead it was Whitehaven who took control. On 44 minutes the brilliant Fletcher made a powerful run from his own half and showed great speed to stay clear of the chasing pack. He drew Gibson and then at exactly the right moment he slipped the ball to Derry Eilbeck on his right shoulder. Eilbeck still had 40 metres to go to the line and he looked around for support before backing himself to beat the chasing Marcus George. Eilbeck had the legs and pulled clear to score under the posts. Rudd converted to level the scores again. The game was on a knife edge and for the next 10 minutes the two forward packs engaged in a midfield arm wrestle. Despite the size and strength of Watene and Paul Southern you just felt that Haven, with Fatialofa back to his best and Trindall as strong as ever, would win through as gradually they started to seize control.
Whitehaven steadily built up pressure and on 53 minutes some superb centre play by Seeds made some space for Craig Calvert. Calvert was bundled into touch by the covering defender just before he could ground the ball and, after some great play by Fatialfoa and Leroy Joe on 57 minutes exactly same thing happened again, with the wingman catching the ball just as the scrambling defence bundled him over the whitewash. The pressure finally told on the hour when the otherwise impressive Hartley fumbled Rudd's poor kick through and Eilbeck pounced to give Haven the lead for the first time. Rudd missed his conversion attempt. The home side were now dominating and after Calvert had a try disallowed for a knock on (62) Rob Jackson latched onto Leroy Joe's grubber kick to put Whitehaven two scores clear. Rudd this time converted.
The exception Stephen Banniser wasted a chance to cap a fine individual performance with a try when he spilled the ball having done well to break clear from Duffy's pass (76). But, on 79 minutes, Carl Sice wrapped up the win for Haven -- and denied the visitors a bonus point -- with his trade-mark dive over the line from acting half back. Rudd tacked on the two.

WHITEHAVEN'S forwards took total control in the second half, cutting off Holroyd's supply line, and allowing their own ball players to shine.

Gamestar: Richard Fletcher; two tries, an assist and a stunning defensive effort means Flecther sees off Fatialfoa, Broadbent and Bannister. Joe was magnificent but joined the game too late to be considered. Holroyd impressed for Fax.

1 Gary Broadbent
2 Craig Calvert
3 David Seeds
4 Rob Jackson
5 Derry Eilbeck
6 Carl Rudd
7 John Duffy
8 Steve Trindall
9 Graeme Mattinson
10 David Fatialofa
11 Stephen Bannister
12 Richard Fletcher
13 Aaron Smith
Subs (all used)
14 Carl Sice
15 Leroy Joe
16 Ricky Wright
17 Scott Teare

1 Damian Gibson;
2 Marcus George,
3 Richard Varkulis,
4 Tim Hartley
5 Lee Greenwood;
6 Graham Holroyd ,
7 Ian Watson;
8 Paul Southern,
9 Sam Hoare,
10 David Wrench,
11 David Larder,
12 Paul Smith,
13 Damian Ball.
Subs (all used)
14 Sean Penkywicz,
14 Mark Roberts
16 Aaron Trinder,
17 Frank Watene

Tries; Fletcher (16, 34) Broadbent (19) Eilbeck (44, 60) Jackson (66) Sice (79).
Goals; Rudd 6/7

Tries George (4) Hartley (11) Roberst (26) Smith (42)
Goals; Hartley 4/4

Starmen; Fletcher (Haven)
Holroyd (Fax)
Ref. Mike Dawber
Halftime 18-18
Pens 5-5
Attendance 1, 729
Scoring sequence; 0-6, 0-12, 6-12, 12-12, 12-18, 18-18, 18-24, 24-24, 28-24, 34-24, 40-24.






































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