Halifax opened up a 10-point gap over fifth-placed Dewsbury Rams in the Kingstone Press Championship with a comfortable 36-24 home success against Glenn Morrison’s team.
The injury-hit visitors trailed 18-6 at half time, rallied briefly at 24-18 but ultimately had no answer to Karl Harrison’s side.
It was the Rams who dominated the opening exchanges, having eight of the first nine sets of possession and scoring a try through the back rower Shane Grady, with Tom Hemingway kicking them into a 6-0 lead.
Fax slowly worked their way into the game almost in spite of their own errors and got themselves on the scoreboard at the end of the first quarter when prop Luke Ambler, who was excellent again, deceived the defence straight from a tap penalty.
Steve Tyrer, who kicked immaculately all afternoon, levelled with the conversion, before Johnston showed dazzling pace and footwork to beat three defenders and score under the posts, Tyrer adding the extras.
The 12-6 lead became 18-6 just before the break when Ross Divorty produced a huge sidestep to leave Rams’ full back Karl Pryce spread-eagled on his way to the line, Tyrer converting.
Fax extended their lead within 90 seconds of the second half restart, Adam Robinson breaking clear deep in his own half and then popping up one play later to send centre Danny Cowling diving over in the corner.
Tyrer converted and although Grady and Tommy Gallagher scored in quick succession for Dewsbury to cut their deficit to 24-18, Halifax were back on top when full-back Ryan Fieldhouse pounced on Murrell’s clever kick and Tyrer re-established a two-score lead at 30-18.
Fieldhouse, who had struggled to find his passing game in the opening half, then produced a beauty for a flying Gareth Potts to score, Tyrer leaving the Rams dead and buried at 36-18.
Ryan Wright’s last-minute charge-down try from Johnston’s kick gave the visitors some consolation, but did nothing to alter the final result.