James ward off Halifax challenge to claim victory


Images: Agatha Torrance

A spirited second half comeback wasn’t enough for Halifax, as they succumbed to a 26-19 defeat against James today.

James had led convincingly at the break, but were forced to defend valiantly to prevent what would have been a shock upset from a ‘Fax side playing with only 14 men.

With James dominating the play right from kick-off, it was a surprise when Halifax took the lead, as prop Nick Wright charged down an attempted clearance and bundled over the try line.

Captain James McNeill confidently dispatched the conversion to open up a 7-0 lead.

It wouldn’t last for long though, as James wing George Richards picked up a loose pass and ran over unchallenged, with skipper Ben Brummit adding the extras to level the scores.

The early dominance that James had threatened was finally bearing fruit, and they soon benefited further from their pressing game.

Phil Clayton’s try after a great burst forward from Tommy Savage, followed by another superb conversion by Brummit, made it 14-7 and was the beginning of a scintillating spell for James.

Just a few minutes later, Tom Prifty ran over to cap a wonderful break away, and the captain’s kicking was once again pinpoint accurate, which was no mean feat given the blustery conditions.

James took further advantage of the shell-shocked Halifax defence, fly half Brummit scoring a try of his own, though his conversion attempt struck the outside of the post.

At half-time the score was a resounding 26-7, and James were certainly good value for their lead.

But Halifax came out fighting after the break, and they soon reaped the rewards, Wright again scoring a scrappy try before McNeill once more showcased his own kicking prowess with the conversion.

The James defence held firm against a barrage of ‘Fax attacks for 20 more minutes, until they were breached all too easily by to a mazy run from Joe Cormack, whose try was just reward for a lively performance.

McNeill stepped up for the third time, but scuffed his effort wide on this occasion to leave the score at 26-19.

With their opponents potentially just one try away from levelling the match, James were desperate to keep possession and were rucking well.

Halifax tried to press, but a nasty head injury to Charlie Alsop took the wind out of their sails and the game finished with a seven point victory for James.

Captain Brummit was pleased with his side’s performance, despite a somewhat complacent second half display, saying, “It was a hard fought victory. Halifax played well and we stepped off the gas in the second half. But we ground out the game in the last ten minutes, so I’m really proud of the boys for that one.”

Halifax skipper McNeill was magnanimous in defeat at full-time: “I was very happy with the second half result, winning 12-0, but it was just unlucky that we switched off for ten minutes in the first. James are a good college and we only had 14 men, so I can’t really complain.”

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