Whitehaven 10 Halifax 30: Whitehaven moved a step closer to relegation from the Championship after an unconvincing 30-10 defeat to Halifax.

Poor finishing cost Haven as 14 points from Nick Rawsthorne helped Halifax take the two points at the Recreation Ground.

The west Cumbrian side are now five points from safety after Swinton triumphed 19-12 over fellow strugglers Workington.

Whitehaven, who are without a coach after the sacking of James Coyle, came into the game on the back of a 28-24 win over rivals Workington, with experienced players Scott McAvoy, Craig Calvert, Dave Allen and Carl Forster taking control. But they couldn’t match last week’s much-needed win.

Halifax had the better of the early stages and came close to opening the scoring following a powerful break from Adam Tangata but the Whitehaven defence held firm.

However they did take the first points of the game after 13 minutes when Chester Butler hit a sharp line to breach the Whitehaven rearguard and dot down. Rawsthorne added the extras to give the visitors a 6-0 lead.

Whitehaven looked to hit back quickly but their efforts fell short as Jessie Joe Parker failed to collect a pass from Louis Jouffret and the ball ran out of play.

And Parker was inches from getting his side on the scoreboard minutes later when he dummied and dived for the line only for the referee to rule the ball had not been grounded.

The Yorkshire club were soon on the attack again and, when a Ben Johnston kick caused havoc for Whitehaven’s defenders, Ryan Boyle had the easy job of touching down the loose ball. Rawsthorne knocked over the conversion.

But the home side were soon back in the game as Jouffret, Parker and Dion Aiye put together a well-worked move and released Ed Chamberlain, who dived over in the corner. Jouffret couldn’t add the extra two points from a tough touchline kick and Whitehaven trailed 12-4.

Halifax stretched their lead to 14 points in the dying moments of the first half as Rawsthorne showed quick feet to accelerate away from Parker and score in the corner. And the influential winger converted his own score with an impressive kick from out wide.

Whitehaven did have a chance to reduce the deficit before half time but loose handling from James Newton close to the Halifax line ended the opportunity and left the Copeland side trailing 18-4 at the interval.

A rejuvenated Whitehaven dominated the early stages of the second half as they searched for a route back into the game. And they were given a lifeline after 45 minutes when Jouffret’s chip in behind the Halifax defence deflected into the hands of Grant Gore and he scored between the posts.

Trailing by just eight points, Whitehaven threw everything at Halifax but a combination of poor handling and strong tackling prevented Whitehaven from crossing the line. Newton came the closest to adding a third try as he dived over the line from close range but two desperate Halifax tacklers managed to twist the hooker and keep the ball off the floor.

And it was Halifax who showed their clinical side once more when a pacy break from Miles Greenwood was followed up by Johnston. He found Jacob Fairbank in support and Fairbank battled his way over the line; grounding the ball behind his head as Whitehaven defenders fought to stop him. Rawsthorne converted.

With only 20 minutes remaining time was beginning to run out for Whitehaven and regular handling errors began to cost them.

The player’s frustrations boiled over and Dave Allen was sinbinned - a decision which confused the crowd and Whitehaven players.

Allen, who had made impressive contributions throughout the game, looked to have questioned the decision of referee Tom Grant not to award a penalty against Halifax for obstruction.

And Whitehaven’s misery was compounded when the lively Tangata made an initial break, offloaded to his support and then collected the final pass to run in under the posts. Rawsthorne added the conversion to seal the win for Halifax.

Whitehaven travel to Dewsbury next week knowing that a defeat will leave them facing League One rugby next season.

Whitehaven: Jouffret, Ince, Taylor, Parker, Chamberlain, Aiye, Gore, Walker, Carberry, T Chapelhow, Fox, Allen, Forster. Subs (all used): Newton, Davies, Riley, Perez.

Tries: Chamberlain, Gore; Goal: Jouffret 1

Halifax: Greenwood, Heaton, Butler, Rawsthorne, Sharp, Johnston, Murrell, Cahalane, Moore, Boyle, Tangata, Manning, Fairbank. Subs (all used): Kaye, Bennion, Morris, Nelmes.

Tries: Butler, Boyle, Rawsthorne, Fairbank, Tangata; Goals: Rawsthorne 5

Referee: Tom Grant

Crowd: 718