Championship and League 1 round-up: Halifax Panthers bounce back while Featherstone Rovers and Dewsbury Rams continue impressive starts

Halifax Panthers bounced back from successive Championship defeats to beat York City Knights, while Featherstone Rovers and Dewsbury Rams maintained their impressive unbeaten league starts.
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Fax welcomed York to The Shay hoping to avoid a hat-trick of league losses following defeats to Barrow Raiders and Bradford Bulls on Easter Monday.

But a first half double from Lachlan Walmsley and a second half try from Jacob Fairbank got Simon Grix’s men back to winning ways, 16-6, against a York side who themselves have now lost their last four Championship outings.

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Following the Bulls’ first away league victory last week, Grix made some changes to his side with Ben Tibbs starting at centre, allowing Zach McComb to move to the wing in place of James Saltonstall, while Will Calcott replaced Will Maher.

Lachlan Walmsley, scorer of two more tries for Halifax Panthers, helps Jake Maizen to tackle a York player in the 16-6 win.Lachlan Walmsley, scorer of two more tries for Halifax Panthers, helps Jake Maizen to tackle a York player in the 16-6 win.
Lachlan Walmsley, scorer of two more tries for Halifax Panthers, helps Jake Maizen to tackle a York player in the 16-6 win.

And Calcott was involved in the first try of the afternoon after 15 minutes when he burst through a gap. Fax then worked the ball neatly to the left as Louis Jouffret found Walmsley for his 12th league try of the season.

Walmsley has recovered quicker than anticipated from surgery on a finger injury sustained in last months victory over Keighley Cougars where it was initially estimated he could have been on the sidelines for up to eight weeks.

But he only missed the Championship and Challenge Cup double-header with Barrow before returning against the Bulls in which he also went over the whitewash.

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He has now scored a try in every single game he has featured in this season.

Action from Halifax Panthers' Championship win over York City Knights.Action from Halifax Panthers' Championship win over York City Knights.
Action from Halifax Panthers' Championship win over York City Knights.

And he was soon celebrating getting his and Fax’s second of the afternoon after being brilliantly played in by Jake Maizen, although Joe Keyes was off target with his second conversion attempt.

Walmsley was in the action at both ends, putting his body, including that fragile finger, on the line to help deny York a way back into the game, although the visitors’ hopes weren’t helped with James Cunningham being sent to the sin bin for a high shot on Dan Murray, allowing the Panthers to take a 10-0 lead into the break.

And that advantage was deservedly extended less than ten minutes into the second half when Fairbank got on the end of a neat Tom Inman kick to grab his first try of the season.

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That was the end of the scoring for the home side, although York finally got on the board with four minutes left thanks to James Glover who benefited from a Joe Brown kick, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Halifax from returning to winning ways.

Further up the Championship table, right at the very top, winning is something which Featherstone Rovers have got addicted to this season, as a 40-10 success at London Broncos made it nine victories out of nine for Sean Long’s men.

Connor Jones grabbed a hat-trick while Caleb Aekins and Brad Day both helped themselves to doubles as Fev raced to yet another comfortable win.

Aekins was first on the try sheet after only eight minutes following a great pass from Joseph Leilua.

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The 2022 Championship Grand Final winner then scored a sensational individual try to extend the lead, racing from inside his own half, while also fending off numerous London defenders, to touch down by the posts.

Day and Jones both scored before the hooter to make it 22-0. And it only took five minutes into the second half for another try as Jones linked up well with Matt Wildie and Craig Kopczak before darting under the posts.

Jones completed his treble in the 53rd minute after bundling over from close range, while Riley Dean added a further two to make it 34-0.

The Broncos, however, were next to score through Iliess Macani but Day soon powered over for his second. Jarred Bassett’s 75 minute try was merely a consolation.

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In the Championship’s other fixtures today, Batley Bulldogs recorded a rare win at Odsal by beating Bradford Bulls 21-16, Widnes Vikings beat Barrow 23-14 and Whitehaven ensured Newcastle Thunder remained at the foot of the table thanks to a 31-6 win.

High-flying Dewsbury continued their wonderful start to their League 1 campaign with an eye-catching 78-10 rout over Cornwall.

The Rams scored 14 tries in total, with Perry Whiteley crossing four times as well as hat-tricks for Davey Dixon and Sam Day. Jimmy Beckett, Joe Summers, Simon Frewin and Elliot Morris all got in on the action too as Liam Finn’s men made it six wins out of six.

In what was the first ever meeting between the two sides, Cornwall will probably be hoping it was their first and last.

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Whiteley and Beckett both scored within the first 12 minutes for a 12-0 lead, which just continued to grow and grow throughout the one-sided contest.

Dixon then scored two tries in as many minutes on his return to the side before a Day scoot from dummy half made it 30-0 after only 26 minutes.

Summers, on debut, barged over from close range before Frewin scored his first try for the club after a fantastic run down the right. Day added another before the break, as the Rams led 46-4.

If there were any doubts about the scoreline at the interval, tries from Morris, Whiteley and Day, for his hat-trick, within the first ten minutes of the restart, squashed any fears of what would have been a remarkable comeback from Cornwall.

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Whiteley got his hat-trick after a great catch in the corner but the visitors got their second of the game from Harry Boots. However, Whiteley and Dixon completed the scoring as Dewsbury retained their unbeaten start to 2023 in stylish fashion.

In League 1’s other games, Doncaster maintained their own unbeaten league start thanks to a narrow 26-22 win at home to Oldham. In an even closer contest, Workington Town edged Rochdale 29-28 in a nail-biting thriller at Spotland, while Hunslet recorded an easy triumph over Midlands Hurricanes, 48-6.