WHITEHALL Warriors used their 30-point advantage to win the Halifax and District ARL handicap semi-final against local rivals Brighouse Rangers.
Division Two Rangers ‘defence was fierce with player-coach Alex Muff urging his team on with some bone crunching gang tackling, writes David Beaumont.
Whitehall withstood the early onslaught and when player coach, Richard Casanove, brought himself on after 15 minutes, he put in the biggest hits of the day.
Brighouse are not top of the Second Division of the Pennine League for nothing and the persistent pounding of their big pack eventually told as Scott Bradley crashed over the Whitehall line. Andy Collins added the extras.
On the half hour, Brighouse half back, Stuart Proctor, got his three-quarters moving and Andy Collins scored in the corner.
Eight minutes later Ross Young found the opening to score by the posts and, with the last play of the first half, Andy Seagar forced his way over on a sixth tackle power play.
With two more goal kicks added, Rangers had scored 22 unanswered points and Whitehall’s 30 point handicap start was down to eight points.
Five minutes into the second half Brighouse put Mark Horne over in the corner.
With the goal kicked and the deficit reduced to only two points, things were looking grim for Whitehall.
Warriors showed their fighting spirit and James Spivey and Luke Seagar drove the ball forward.
Lee Nellist booted it to the corner and Brighouse wingman Ben Collins tried to shepherd the ball over the dead ball line.
Skipper Alex Scargill, chased the ball to the end and grabbed a try from nothing.
Whitehall had their best spell of the match.
Frustrated coach Muff got himself sin-binned for a high tackle as he tried to gee his team mates up.
Rangers cut out the penalties and came surging back and Stuart Proctor raced down the right to put wingman Ben Collins in by the flag.
The kick was missed but, with 15 minutes left, Brighouse were confident of overcoming the small deficit.
Whitehall worked overtime to protect their small lead especially ex-Rangers player, Barry Stead, determined to get one over on his old team mates.
Against the run of play, Whitehall halfback John Handscomb danced around two forwards and side stepped the fullback to score an individual try.
Jamie Holroyd kicked the conversion and Rangers had eight points to make up.
Rangers responded and surged to the Warriors line. Karl Frankland found space to go over in the bottom corner but the goal kick was missed.
With five minutes left, Nellist booted a drop goal leaving Brighouse needing a try and a goal to win.
Whitehall ate the clock up with safe drives and booked their place in the final against Halifax Irish on Wednesday, May 9 at Siddal.