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MATCH REPORT: Rovers start Qualifiers with a win

Snapshot: Kieren Moss’s brace and one from Matty Marsh saw Rovers lead early. Halifax respond to lead 22-14. George Lawler and Scruton cross to secure the win.

Nick Scruton’s late try sealed the Robins’ first win in the Super 8s Qualifiers despite a disjointed performance.

Tim Sheens named a strong side for the first game of the Super 8s Qualifiers, including handing a debut to Samoan international prop Mose Masoe. Shaun Lunt, Justin Carney, George Lawler, Lee Jewitt and Andrew Heffernan also returned to the side, but James Greenwood, Adam Quinlan and Chris Clarkson missed out with injuries sustained a fortnight earlier.

The Red and Whites put a marker down right from the start, as Ryan Shaw used the breeze to his advantage, launching a wicked short kick-off that Ben Heaton couldn’t claim and Shaw recovered. That put the Robins straight into good field position, and a smart run-around between Lunt and Jewitt allowed the dummy-half to give Matty Marsh space. The stand-off found Kieren Moss looping around the back, and he threw a dummy before spinning through Will Sharp’s tackle to score.

Jamie Ellis’ conversion hit the post and bounced out, but Rovers were soon on the attack again after some strong early carries led to Ben Kavanagh being tackled high as he threatened to break the line. The penalty put the Red and Whites on the attack, and when Ryan Boyle couldn’t collect Ellis’ reverse grubber towards the posts, Moss dived in to score again.

Ellis was again off target with his conversion though, this time hitting the opposite upright, and a penalty four minutes late handed Halifax the chance to respond.

Marsh was rather harshly ruled to have tackled Sharp in the air, and quick hands down the right from the visitors put Heaton over at the corner.

Steve Tyrer converted to cut Rovers’ lead to just two points, but the Robins were soon on the attack again, moving the ball quickly from left to right before Danny Addy cut back infield and slipped a lovely offload away. Lunt fired the ball over to the left flank where Carney ripped through the visitors’ defence and set sail for the corner, only to be called back by referee Liam Moore.

Much to the confusion and frustration of the Rovers faithful, the official had called held before Addy offloaded, but despite that, a lovely grubber to the in-goal by Lunt earned a repeat set and that was quickly turned into points.

After Ellis went close on the right, Addy took the ball back across to the right, found Marsh in space and he threw a big dummy before strolling over. Ellis converted, but Halifax hit back with two tries in the space of five minutes.

First Mitch Cahalane short ball allowed Barber to put Heaton in for his second, and then the winger completed his hat-trick after squeezing over at the corner.

Tyrer added a conversion to give the visitors a two-point advantage approaching half-time, but Rovers came within inches of re-taking the lead after Lunt’s dummy-half break let to Ellis landing a high kick in the shadow of the uprights. Marsh got above three players to reel the ball in, but weight of numbers from Halifax held him up short of the line, sending the Robins into the break trailing.

Half-Time: Hull Kingston Rovers 14       Halifax RLFC 16

After racing out of the blocks early on, the Red and Whites had rather lost their way and the loss of Thomas Minns to a dead leg sustained early in the game resulted in a rapid reshuffle over half-time. Despite that, the Robins raced out of the blocks again, with Heffernan doing brilliantly to take a towering Ellis bomb before offloading to Lawler. He got the ball away to Shaw, who in turn slipped a pass away to Moss, but the scrambling Halifax defence enveloped him and smothered the threat.

Another Ellis bomb caused havoc in the visitors’ defence soon after, as Sharp allowed it to bounce along his try line, resulting in Rob Worrincy being wrapped up for a drop-out by the chasing Maurice Blair and Addy.

Halifax repelled that threat, before Sharp and Worrincy cleared their lines with some strong carries which seemed to settle the visitors and after Carney fumbled an awkwardly-bouncing Scott Murrell grubber on his try line. Barber kicked the ball into the in-goal area and Heaton pounced for his fourth of the day.

Tyrer converted to increase Halifax’s lead to eight points, and crucially, a two-score gap but Rovers were soon pressing for a response.

A big run by Masoe led to quick hands down the left from Marsh and Addy, but as Blair looked to keep the ball alive, the visitors’ defence swamped him and recovered possession.

It was all Rovers as they battled to find a try, and a shoulder charge off the ball by Brandon Douglas on Scruton seemed to ignite the Robins as another big charge by Masoe set up the position for Ellis to kick high again. Heffernan bravely flew in to compete for the ball, which broke loose on the visitors’ line and Lawler dived in to touch down. However referee Moore ruled the ball had been knocked-on by Heffernan and cut the celebrations short.

Masoe was forced from the field soon after following what seemed to be a chicken-wing tackle by Boyle, but despite it being put on report, no penalty was forthcoming. However Rovers exacted their own revenge shortly after.

Tyrer crunched Ellis as he took the line on, but on the next tackle saw Lunt sending Lawler burrowing over from close range. Despite the attentions of a host of tacklers, he got the ball down, and Ellis’ conversion cut the deficit to just two points with 17 minutes to play.

The Red and Whites had their tails up and laid siege to the visitors’ line. Two drop-outs, a restarted tackle count and a penalty saw five sets of six build intense pressure on the Halifax line, and after Lawler had twice gone close, Lunt sent Scruton powering over under the posts.

Ellis added his third goal and with the win finally within their grasp, Rovers closed the game out.

Carney did brilliantly to claim Tyrer’s short restart before rampaging downfield, swatting defenders away and trampling over tacklers on a tremendous 40-metre run. Soon after he was called into action in defence as he forced Heaton over the sideline as the visitors looked to go wide, and when Barber fumbled a Murrell bomb in the dying seconds, the Red and Whites could finally relax and celebrate their first victory of the Super 8s Qualifiers.

Full-Time: Hull Kingston Rovers 26       Halifax RLFC 22

Hull KR: 32. Kieren Moss; 36. Justin Carney, 3. Thomas Minns, 22. Andrew Heffernan, 5. Ryan Shaw; 20. Matty Marsh, 7. Jamie Ellis; 8. Nick Scruton, 9. Shaun Lunt, 37. Lee Jewitt; 11. Maurice Blair, 13. Danny Addy, 33. Ben Kavanagh.

Replacements: 39. Mose Masoe, 19. George Lawler, 21. Rob Mulhern, 38. Chris Atkin.

Halifax: 2. Will Sharp; 4. Ben Heaton, 16. Ed Barber, 3. Steve Tyrer, 23. Rob Worrincy; 6. Scott Murrell, 1. Ben Johnston; 26. Alex Mammone, 17. Brandon Moore, 14. Ryan Boyle; 11. Shane Grady, 8. Mitch Cahalane, 12. Simon Grix.

Replacements: 9. Ben Kaye, 20. Elliot Morris, 29. Michael Sio, 37. Brandon Douglas.

Referee: Liam Moore            Attendance: 7,706

Photo: MATCH REPORT: Rovers start Qualifiers with a win