Dewsbury Rams produced a magnificent performance to stun Halifax and move to within 80 minutes of the Kingstone Press Championship Grand Final.
A fantastic defensive display saw the Rams nil much-fancied Halifax and this provided the springboard for them to complete a 25-0 win and set up a semi-final showdown with Leigh Centurions this Sunday.
The Rams defended as a unit and at one stage in the first half, they were forced to drop out on three separate occasions but they remained solid and weathered everything Fax threw at them.
The Rams made a lively start and created the game’s first chance when Anthony Thackeray chipped right for Shane Grady and Sam Wood to leap together but it was the Halifax defender who came away with the ball.
The Rams defence thwarted Luke Adamson close to the line before Halifax lost possession on the last tackle.
Dewsbury have players capable of turning a game and two of those linked after 15 minutes to open the scoring.
Tom Hemingway launched a kick downfield which ricocheted off a Fax defender and back into the hooker’s arms.
Hemingway seized the opportunity, racing through the gap before finding Thackeray on his shoulder to send the Rams leading try scorer over for the try. Hemingway tagged on the conversion.
Solid defence thwarted Fax time and again before Keiran Hyde hammered over a long range penalty goal to extend the Rams lead.
Dewsbury allowed the kick off to go dead and it signalled a sustained spell of Halifax pressure.
Scott Murrell’s cheeky chip through forced Dewsbury to drop out for a second time, while Tony Tonks was twice held inches short by some tenacious defending.
Thackeray got back to deny full-back Joe Martin before the scrum-half intercepted a pass and raced 60 metres to relieve the pressure. The respite was short lived as Fax forced Dewsbury to drop out again but the Rams defence remained solid and Hyde’s drop goal in first half injury time gave them a 9-0 interval lead.
Dewsbury had belief and a lead to hold onto and were roared on by a vociferous travelling support.
That belief grew nine minutes into the second half when Wood leapt brilliantly to gather Thackeray’s deft chip to the right and the winger somehow managed to get the ball down in the corner.
The try was too far out for Hemingway to goal but the Rams held a 13-0 lead.
Thackeray, hard-working Karl Pryce, Grady and Hemingway were all held close as the Rams turned the screw before they grabbed a third try.
Hyde’s kick to the in-goal area caused confusion in the Fax defence and Tommy Gallagher pounced to score and send the Dewsbury support wild. Hemingway landed the simple goal and the celebrations began.
The Rams sealed victory with a fourth try when Thackeray stretched out an arm to gather Hemingway’s chip through one-handed and held off a defender to plant the ball down.
Thackeray gleefully threw the ball into the celebrating travelling support before Hemingway hammered over the conversion to leave Rams fans dreaming of a potential Grand Final date.
Halifax: Martin; Potts, Tyrer, Casey, Saxton; Murrell, Mennell; Brooks, Kaye, Ambler, Manning, Divorty, Adamson. Subs: Tonks, Robinson, Holden, Bracek.
Dewsbury Rams: Pryce; Morton, Hellewell, Grady, Wood; Hyde, Thackeray; Haggarty, Hemingway, Hepworth, Spicer, Hale, Murphy. Subs: Wright, Muranka, Farrell, Gallagher.
Referee: Joe Cobb.
Next up for Rams: Leigh (away) play-off semi-final Sunday ko 3pm.