Halifax Vandals 11 Skipton 31
Skipton damage Vandals title prospects
SKIPTON toppled league leaders Halifax Vandals with a four try display of open running rugby, earning themselves a valuable bonus league point and boosting their chances of making a late challenge for promotion.
The Reds got off to a nervous start, losing the first scrum against the head and giving away a penalty for offside, allowing the Vandals to take a 3-0 lead.
They soon put the early nerves behind them and from a good forward drive from a tap penalty the ball went quickly down the back line to Gavin Ackers-Johnson who showed a tremendous turn of pace to go in under the posts. Matty Langstaff added the extra points.
A penalty to Skipton for a Vandals' high tackle was compounded by back-chat to the referee and put Skipton down field.
A strong run by stand-off Liam Jordan put centre Jon Currie through for Skipton's second try under the posts. Langstaff again added the extra points and Skipton had established a 14-3 lead after just 15 minutes.
Skipton then conceded two penalties in quick succession and found themselves on their own line but strong forward work from Harry McEneaney and a good return from winger Josh Smith kept the Vandals at bay.
Clean ball from a Skipton scrum and quick hands by Langstaff put Ackers-Johnson over for his second try, Langstaff again adding the extra points.
An attempt at a high tackle on Ackers-Johnson as he crossed the line earned the Halifax Vandals' winger a yellow card but Skipton then lost Liam Jordan with an ankle injury, forward Matty Wilson received a yellow card and Skipton were penalised for collapsing the scrum, from which the home side added a further three points. As the sides turned round at half-time things did not seem to be going Skipton's way.
Skipton started the second half playing up the slope and the Vandals were soon camped on the visitors' line.
The Reds conceded a penalty for handling in the scrum from which the home side drove over for their only try.
Skipton realised that they needed to re-take control of the game and Langstaff put in a series of long-range kicks to gain field position followed by a mid-field kick and chase to secure the visitors' fourth try which earned the bonus point.
Langstaff added the extra points himself and Skipton had established a comfortable 28-11 lead. Skipton Coach Dave Duxbury then made some changes to the forwards, bringing on Charlie Brown, Troy Johnson and Rick Wilsher. They made an immediate impact up front, driving the Vandals back to their own five-metre line where they conceded two penalties. Langstaff took the points from the second penalty and stretched Skipton's lead to 31-11.
Skipton then launched a series of attacks on the Vandals' line sending the ball swiftly down the backs to winger Smith and Ackers-Johnson. Another high tackle by the Vandals, this time on Smith, earned them their second yellow card.
From the resulting penalty McEneaney made a great forward drive and was unlucky not to score, being bundled into touch just two yards out.
Skipton made three further breaks before full time with wingers Smith and Redver Stork-Flatley and second row Luke Stockton all being denied tries.