The crunch: Fax v Fev match that deci

Halifax Courier - - Nostalgia -

IT was the last league game of the sea­son. Hal­i­fax were top of the ta­ble but would need at least a point from the game, at home at Thrum Hall, against Feather­stone Rovers, who were fight­ing to avoid rel­e­ga­tion into rugby league’s sec­ond divi­sion.

Aussies Joe Kilroy and Cav­ill Heugh had been re­called to Aus­tralia af­ter Fax’s 18-6 de­feat of War­ring­ton on Easter Mon­day, March 31. That left just an Aussie con­tin­gent of three, cap­tain and stand-off Chris An­der­son, cen­tre Tony An­der­son and ram­pag­ing prop for­ward Geoff Robin­son.

The full team that mo­men­tous day was full­back Colin Whit­field, three­quar­ters Ed- die Rid­dles­den, Tony An­der­son, Scott Wil­son and Wilf Ge­orge, half­backs Chris An­der­son and Gary Stephens, and for­wards Geoff Robin­son, Sea­mus McCal­lion, Mick Scott, Paul Dixon, Brian Juliff and Steve Bond.

Fax scored early, through a drop goal by Gary Stephens, worth one point, af­ter seven min­utes, but Feather­stone scored one of their own through Keith Bell nine min­utes later. With so much at stake for both sides it was a des­per­ately tense af­fair, but on 24 min­utes Wilf Ge­orge crashed over for a try and then in first-half in­jury time Paul Dixon’s lunge brought a sec­ond try, con­verted by Colin Whit­field for an 11-1 half-time lead.

As the sec­ond half started it seemed that Hal­i­fax would carry on in the same vein. But then, from a scrum, Fev’s loose for­ward Paul Ly­man scored un­op­posed; Steve Quinn added the con­ver­sion – and Rovers were back in it.

A Whit­field penalty gave Fax a six-point lead but Feather­stone were not done and their half backs put pres­sure on Hal­i­fax with a se­ries of long kicks. Then, with just six min­utes to go, Rovers hoisted a high ball and Graham Stead­man grabbed the bounc­ing ball to go over. Quinn con­verted to level the scores at 13-13 and as Fev pressed again it seemed only a mat­ter of time be­fore they would set up a drop goal at­tempt for a last-gasp win­ner.

And then, sud­denly, it was all over. The hooter sounded and Hal­i­fax were cham­pi­ons. And the draw meant that Rovers kept their place in divi­sion one. The ten­sion among the Hal­i­fax fans in the 7,465 crowd gave way to cel­e­bra­tion as cap­tain Chris An­der­son held the cham­pi­onship tro­phy aloft.

But it did seem that the game had ended early, per­haps by two min­utes, with a score that suited both sides. It meant that Wi­gan, with a much bet­ter points dif­fer­ence than Hal­i­fax’s, were pipped to the ti­tle by a point and York, who lost to Dews­bury, were rel­e­gated in­stead of Feather­stone.

There was talk of the match hav­ing to be re-

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