Champs’ plight worsens

HALIFAX coach Matt Calland woke up this morning with his Grand Final winning side next to bottom of the Co-operative Championship after yesterday’s 43-25 home reverse against Barrow.

Fax sit 10th on the ladder, two points above Toulouse, but with the French side exempt from relegation Calland’s team are currently a further two points from safety after York beat fellow strugglers Dewsbury.

It had looked like Fax, who downed the Rams last weekend, were on course for back to back wins when they led the Raiders 25-24 with 10 minutes to go, only to concede three late tries against the side that beat them in the 2009 Grand Final.

“It was a really frustrating game,” said Calland, who was without several players through injury and brought hooker Bob Beswick, back rower Joe Chandler and centre James Haley back into the side.

“We played pretty well in the first half, said all the right things at half time and then turned in a poor second half.

“We’re like Jekyll and Hyde. It’s really disappointing and overall it is another backward step for us.

“We are just not putting 80 minutes together at the moment.

“The biggest difference in that second half was the completion rate: they ran around 90 per cent, we ran around 50. You just aren’t going to win playing like that.”

Haley’s departure with a leg injury early in the second half appeared to contribute to Fax’s downfall, leaving half backs Danny Jones and Graham Holroyd defending together on the left flank.

“James going off really hampered us, he pulled his hamstring and we had to move Danny out into the centre,” said Calland.

“We’re just lacking a bit of punch at the moment and I thought we missed Makali Aizue in the middle of the field where we struggled against Matt James and Ben Davies.

“But I thought Miles Greenwood was great at full back and to be fair the back three have been good all year, him, Rob Worrincy and Paul White.”

Report - pages 28-29

League table - page 26

HALIFAX’S under 23s turned in an encouraging performance before slipping to a 34-26 loss at last season’s champions Whitehaven on Saturday.

Martin Gonzalez’s side scored tries through Ben Hinsley, Seta Talatoka, Josh Barlow, Peter Murphy and Paul Steele, with Brad Radcliffe (2) and Mark Goodman kicking conversions.