Third took on fourth in the Betfred Championship as the York City Knights hosted the Halifax Panthers in a crucial Round Twelve encounter as the home side looked to keep in touch with the top two and the Panthers looked to avoid a slip to sixth place in the table as mid-season approaches.
The Knights have won their last seven games with the Panthers having won their last six, something would have to give in what promised to be a close game between two for sides.
Halifax had been given a six-point start on the handicap coupon, but the bookies and pundits were expecting a close game between two evenly matched sides who should both make the end of season play-offs, if not be in with a real chance of promotion to Super League.
The City Knights took an early lead thanks to a Jamie Ellis angled kick outfoxed the Panthers defence and Liam Harris dropped on the ball in goal for the try, the half back combining perfectly. Ellis added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
Lachlan Walmsley and James Woodburn-Hall combined brilliantly to open the Panthers account as the full-back broke downfield and fed the winger to go in from twenty metres out. Joe Keyes added the conversion to level the scores.
Halifax were down to twelve on twenty-two when Louis Jouffret committed a professional foul in stopping the York player from playing the ball. Three plays after the penalty and Jack Teanby used his power to drive over the line to score under the sticks off an Ellis pass. Ellis added the extras as York regained the initiative.
Halifax were down to eleven on twenty-five with James Saltonstall sin-binned for again holding down. The eleven men held out for just one tackle before Matty Marsh crashed over from close and when Ellis added the conversion it was 18-6.
A breakaway try, after a Harris mistake in throwing the intercept pass, saw Walmsley collect the ball and go eighty metres to score under the sticks against the run of play. Keyes added the conversion, the lead down to six points.
From the kick off return Keyes threw a dummy and broke downfield before finding Brandon Moore in support to take the pass and go in for a second try in three minutes. Keyes again added the extras, and the sides were all-square with a couple of minutes until the hooter.
It was a stunning period of play by the Panthers as they opened up York down the rights side with Woodburn-Hall leaving the City Knights defence looking leaden-footed as he went over. Keyes was unable to convert on this occasion, the Panthers taking the lead into the interval after scoring sixteen unanswered points with players in the sin-bin.
York were back level with the first try of the second half when Harris threw a dummy and stepped through the Panthers defence for a terrific try. Ellis added the conversion from wide, the City Knights regaining the lead they lost just before the interval.
On fifty-eight Dan Murray broke through the York defence to again take the lead for the Panthers and when Keyes added the conversion it was 28-24 in Halifax´s favour.
Walmsley completed his hat-trick on sixty-one when Keyes and Tangata combined with a long miss-out pass going into the hands of Walmsley to cross in the corner. Keyes added the conversion for a ten-point lead.
The game was won on seventy-two with Tangata offloading out of the tackle close to the York line and into the hands of Dann Murray to dive in. Keyes added the conversion for 40-24, the home side needing three converted tries in seven minutes.
It was a great Halifax performance to make it seven consecutive wins, especially when they were players down at the end of the first half during a period when they ran in two crucial tries. York suffered a collective brin explosion for that crucial spell and despite regaining the lead early in the second half the damage was done as they crumbled after the Panthers stepped it up a gear.
York City Knights: Marsh (T), Brown, Glover, Antrobus, Oakes, Harris (2T), Ellis (4G), Matongo, Jubb, Dixon, Clarkson, Kirmond, Thompson. Subs: Davis, Teanby (T), Stock, Porter.
Halifax Panthers: Woodburn-Hall (T), Walmsley (3T), Arundel, Tibbs, Saltonstall (SB on 25), Jouffret (SB on 22), Keyes (6G), Calcott, Moore (T), Murray (2T), Roberts, Garside, Tangata. Subs: Wood, Gwaze, Larroyer, Barber.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 6-4, 6-6, (SB), 10-6, 12-6, (SB), 16-6, 18-6, 18-10, 18-12, 18-16, 18-18, 18-22 : HT : 22-22, 24-22, 24-26, 24-28, 24-32, 24-34, 24-38, 24-40 : FT.
Referee: Ben Thaler.