Halifax RLFC 21-12 Featherstone Rovers
Halifax triumph in Blackpool
Halifax made up for last year's heart-breaking final defeat by Leigh Centurions to lift the Northern Rail Cup after a thrilling 21-12 win over Featherstone.
Rovers were clear pre-match favourites after going into the Bloomfield Road showdown off the back of 10 straight wins.
But Karl Harrison's Fax produced an outstanding defensive effort throughout a breathless game, and they finally secured victory when centre Steve Tyrer touched down with two minutes remaining.
Halifax had led the contest for the vast majority of the game, after Anthony Thackeray put them ahead in the opening stages.
Featherstone twice managed to draw level, but a Tyrer penalty and Craig Ashall drop goal put Fax 15-12 ahead before Tyrer secured the win.
It means Halifax coach Karl Harrison lifted the trophy for the third time with three different clubs, after leading Salford to success in 2003 and Batley in 2010.
Hooker Sean Penkywicz was named the Northern Rail Cup man of the match after an influential display despite surprisingly starting the game on the bench.
His side had led 12-6 at the break after an intense first half packed with hard-hitting defence.
Fax had already sprung one shock by starting with Penkywicz on the bench and provided another by retaining a short first kick-off, and then opened the scoring after less than four minutes.
Paul Handforth's perfectly measured grubber kick was touched down by his halfback partner Thackeray, and Tyrer's conversion made it 6-0.
The sides continued to tear into each other, and after Tyrer missed a straight-forward penalty attempt, Featherstone levelled after a long spell of pressure on the Fax line.
Scrum half Liam Finn was the try scorer, forcing his way over in a two-man tackle and adding the conversion himself for 6-6.
But Harrison's side were back in front by the break. There appeared to be little on when substitute prop Sam Barlow took the ball in close to the posts, but he crashed through the tackle of Ian Hardman and Dominic Maloney to give his side a six-point advantage at half-time.
Featherstone responded within three minutes of the restart. Handed possession by Makali Aizue's mistake in the tackle, Rovers were then gifted a try, as Andy Kain's dummy half flick pass allowed Sam Smeaton to burrow over on the last tackle. Finn missed the extras to leave a two-point gap between the teams.
That was cancelled out when Finn slotted a 63rd minute penalty following Craig Ashall's high tackle on Kain, only for Tyrer to response in kind moments later to put Fax back ahead.
Ashall then edged Fax further in front, before Tyrer clinched the win by touching down Thackeray's kick.