Northern Rail Cup Round-up

Knowing that both Leigh and Featherstone had made it through to the semi finals, all eyes turned to Toulouse on Saturday to see if the French team could upset the reigning Co-operative Championship Grand Finalists Halifax.

With both teams showing indifferent league form no-one knew quite what to expect but the Halifax fans that made it over were rewarded at the end of eighty minutes as Halifax recorded their first win in four with a 36-26 victory.

The damage was done in the first half when the Yorshiremen raced into a 30-4 lead. Greg White was the only player to trouble the scoreboard from a Toulouse perspective as Halifax ripped their hosts apart.

Rob Worrincy opened scoring after four minutes and following him to the line were Sean Penkywicz (16 minutes), Neil Cherryholme (20 minutes) and Danny Jones (23 minutes) as Halifax went 24-0 up before White nipped over the line for Toulouse. Jones grabbed a second try before the break and Toulouse hit back in the second half.

Tim Wynn opened the hosts second half account and they roared back at their visitors with another try from Nicolas Faure. Halifax grabbed their sixth try before the hour through Paul White and veteran Graham Holroyd kicked his sixth goal. Olypique finished strongly with Constance Villegas flying over the line and there was another score from try machine Darren Nicholls, to which Damian Couturier kicked his third goal, but it was too little too late.

Sunday brought the second heavy woolen derby in a matter of weeks and after losing 28-0 to Batley in the league, Dewsbury had plenty to prove. For Batley, this was the chance for the current holders to win through to the semis.

Dewsbury made a good start to the game with Dominic Brambani opening scoring with a 15th minute penalty. James Lockwood then claimed the first try of the game after 22 minutes and the hosts appeared to be flying with an 8-0 advantage. Three tries in ten minutes from Paul Handforth, Sean Hesketh and former Rams player Alex Bretherton turned the game on its head at half-time and Batley led 16-8 with Handforth also booting two goals.

Aydel Faal scored the first try of the second half with Brambani again converting to bring the Rams within two points of their visitors before two further penalties from Brambani gave them a narrow advantage. Byrom Smith bulldozed through for Batley with Handforth making it 22-18 before a late surge took Dewsbury clear. Lockwood claimed his second try from a grubber kick before Luke Blake dashed over and just to add further gloss, Faal nabbed a second try with Brambani converting all and adding a penalty to take his goal tally to nine. More importantly for the Rams they reached the semi-finals of the Northern Rail Cup for the first time in their history with a 38-22 success.

The semi-final line up is a mouth watering one. Leigh Centurions, Featherstone Rovers, Halifax and Dewsbury Rams are the final four. The draw will take place on Thursday night during half-time of the televised Co-operative Championship game between Featherstone and Barrow.

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