HALIFAX caretaker coach Damian Ball admitted to handing out a dressing room dressing down at half time in the club’s final Co-operative Championship league fixture at Hunslet yesterday afternoon.
Fax trailed the Hawks 20-6 at the interval at the South Leeds Stadium after an abject first half performance.
But with Ball’s words ringing in their ears, last season’s Grand Final winners - playing their first game for more than two weeks - turned up the heat in the second period, with a late penalty from Danny Jones and a Ryan Fieldhouse try sealing victory in the final minutes.
Sheffield’s win over York confirmed Fax finished in sixth spot, setting up a play off showdown with Karl Harrison’s Batley on Thursday night.
“We were off the pace in that first 40 minutes and we looked a bit suspect defensively, especially on the edges,” said Ball, who has been in caretaker charge since Matt Calland left the club in July.
“At half time we regrouped, a few words were said as well, and I thought the response was superb, actually.
“It was pretty sombre in there; the players knew themselves what had happened in that first 40 and they have come out the other side really well.
“Breaks are difficult to come back from sometimes, players spend time away from the club, which they need at this time of the season, and it’s probably a game we needed to get out of the way before Thursday night.
“Hunslet is not an easy place to come at any time and we got the result in the end.
“We should certainly be better for it.”
Prop Sam Barlow led the charge, scoring two close range tries and providing a constant threat in midfield.
“I thought Sam was tremendous,” said Ball, who lost Makali Aizue (ankle) and Stephen Bannister (thumb) with injuries that could rule them out of the trip to Mount Pleasant.
“I asked him to concentrate on what he does best, using his size and getting forward with the ball, and he led the pack really well.”
Report - pages 32-33