In­juries mount up as Hull KR hold off Hal­i­fax’s fight­back

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - RUGBY LEAGUE - Dave Craven AT CRAVEN PARK Email: dave.craven@ypn.co.uk Twit­ter: @DCravenYPS­port

HULL KINGSTON ROVERS 38 HAL­I­FAX 24 QUAL­I­FIERS

PRO­LIFIC Craig Hall scored four first-half tries to take Hull KR a step closer towards Su­per League safety, but it was part-timers Hal­i­fax who fin­ished with most of the ac­claim.

The rangy winger, making his 250th ca­reer ap­pear­ance, has been a rev­e­la­tion since join­ing from Leigh Cen­tu­ri­ons in July, re­turn­ing in style for his sec­ond spell with the East York­shire club.

He has scored 11 tries in just five games, cross­ing at least once in all of them, and pro­duced just what Tim Sheens re­quired.

How­ever, his head coach was dis­pleased af­ter see­ing his side race into a 24-0 lead in­side just 26 min­utes only to be pegged back by gritty Cham­pi­onship foes.

Hal­i­fax had only scored three tries in their pre­vi­ous four-anda-half hours of win­less Qual­i­fiers football, but then grabbed four in just 34 min­utes in the sec­ond half here.

It was the least they de­served for their ef­fort, ded­i­ca­tion and per­sis­tence while they did so largely with­out tal­is­manic Scott Mur­rell, the for­mer KR stand-off who suf­fered a sus­pected bro­ken thumb in the first set, but bat­tled on un­til the 46th minute.

Cer­tainly this was a warn­ing to Rovers who must per­form bet­ter when Lon­don Bron­cos – a full-time Cham­pi­onship side who have beaten Su­per League Widnes Vik­ings – ar­rive Satur­day.

Fur­ther­more a third vic­tory from four Qual­i­fiers out­ings came at a sig­nif­i­cant cost.

In­flu­en­tial Aus­tralian full-back Adam Quin­lan – who had the as­sist for all five first-half tries – suf­fered a sus­pected torn an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment that will rule him out for much of 2019.

Pow­er­ful winger Justin Car­ney, who an­nounced on Thurs­day this will be his fi­nal sea­son of pro­fes­sional rugby league as he heads home to New South Wales, limped off with a re­cur­ring an­kle in­jury that could spell the end of his ca­reer.

Fi­nally prop Mase Ma­soe suf­fered a head knock that will rule him out for at least one week.

Sheens con­ceded his side must now try to “rein­vent” them­selves with­out Quin­lan, who is so key in their at­tack­ing plan.

Much of Hall’s suc­cess yes­ter­day was down to the work of the stel­lar 25-year-old who had the last pass for all of the for­mer Hull man’s quar­tet and also latched onto Danny McGuire’s clever in­side pass to break free and grub­ber ahead for James Green­wood’s try in the 16th minute.

That tac­tic – the ball back on the in­side – fooled Hal­i­fax on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions, most stylishly ear­lier on when Joel Tomkins provided a lovely pass to un­leash Quin­lan, Hall fin­ish­ing off.

Hall scored his first af­ter just seven min­utes when Quin­lan started show­cas­ing his skills with a cut­ting long pass that saw the winger walk in at the cor­ner. The 30-year-old com­pleted his tre­ble in­side just 18 min­utes, but had to work harder for that one.

As the for­mer Toronto Wolf­pack cap­tain col­lected yet an­other Quin­lan pass, he stepped in­side Ben Heaton, but in the process was floored by a dan­ger­ous high tackle from the wrong­footed Hal­i­fax player.

Hall hit the ground, but, to his credit, man­aged to get up and scram­ble over. Bizarrely rookie ref­eree Mar­cus Grif­fiths did not bran­dish a card of any colour yet, you sensed, if the Robins star had stayed down Heaton could eas­ily have been sent-off.

Car­ney had set up po­si­tion for that score with a typ­i­cally force­ful break, but pulled up in­jured when fi­nally brought down.

Hal­i­fax were again for­tu­nate not to be re­duced to 12 men when Ja­cob Fair­bank took down Chris Atkin with a late shoul­der charge.

It mat­tered not; Quin­lan pro­duced an­other per­fect pass for Hall to run in again.

How­ever, from thereon in, rather than wilt, Hal­i­fax grew in con­fi­dence. Frus­trat­ing their ri­vals with an im­proved and re­lent­less de­fence they were able to get some sort of foothold.

They earned re­ward for their en­deav­our when Sal­ton­stall crossed in the 44th minute.

Shane Grady im­proved and it was a sign of their grow­ing pres­ence that Rovers felt the need to re­sort to tak­ing two points via Hall in the 62nd minute.

Yet that did not take the sting out of Hal­i­fax who hit straight back with Sal­ton­stall’s sec­ond af­ter a fine run from ex-Hull FC winger Will Sharp and qual­ity Ch­ester But­ler off­load.

Dan Flem­ing im­proved and – though Rovers re­sponded with Atkin’s try af­ter Todd Car­ney’s timely 40/20 and close-range ef­fort from Shaun Lunt – the vis­i­tors had the fi­nal word with Flem­ing and Sharp scor­ing tries.

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