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This bottom-of-the-table clash provided a good opportunity for ‘Ensians to move away from relegation territory, but they were let down by an indifferent performance in the second half.

Starting against the elements, the hosts had a setback after 2 minutes when full back Kristian Keinhorst injured his hand with his first touch of the ball, Carlos Hassan coming on as replacement. With the wind at their backs, Halifax made all the running in the first 20 minutes with a penalty and two tries, one of which was converted, giving them a 15 – 0 lead.

The home side then began to get more into the game with some good runs by centres Johnny Ratahi and Dale Kennedy, well supported by young wingers Josh Butterill and Jed Copsey. Ball from the scrums and lineouts was untidy, but the ‘Ensian pack gradually asserted itself and good support play gave hooker Rob Lyon a try on 22 minutes. The home pack worked hard to gain territory with locks Sam Gray and Alan Harker putting in the hard graft. Quick ball from lively scrum half Rob Lofthouse allowed centre Ratahi to cut through for a fine try on 34 minutes. The conversion reduced Vandals’ advantage to 15 – 12 at the interval.

In the second period, the expectation was that ‘Ensians would use the wind to establish themselves in the visitors’ half and step up the pressure. The front row of Tony Myers, Rob Lyon and Michael Groves were competing well for the ball, but too often possession was untidy. Consequently, this put half backs Rob Lofthouse and Matt Tenniswood in difficulties as they were harassed by the Halifax back row.

Again in the lineouts, ‘Ensians jumpers Sam Gray and Sam Featherstone were reaching the ball, but the result was too often scrappy. With frustration creeping in, mistakes began to occur and tackles were missed allowing Vandals to score three well-worked tries on 53, 60 and 70 minutes. A conversion and a penalty pushed the score to 35 – 12 to the visitors.

This was another occasion where ‘Ensians were well in the game at half time only for their efforts to fade badly after the break. With several games being postponed due to frost, there are still many matches to be played, but this was an opportunity missed.