Fax complete Easter double but Marshall doubts decision to bench skipper

Rob Worrincy drives for the line against Oldham
Rob Worrincy drives for the line against Oldham

Halifax coach Richard Marshall admitted he “held his hand up” in the dressing room after replacing captain Scott Murrell with a quarter of the 16-14 Bank Holiday Monday Championship win over Oldham remaining.

Fax were leading the Roughyeds 14-0 when Murrell, who has been carrying an injury, headed for the dug out, with centre James Woodburn-Hall moving to half back alongside Ben Johnston.

In a game strewn with errors, Oldham edged their way back into the contest with three late tries, half back Scott Leatherbarrow missing a touchline kick that would have tied the scores at 16-16.

And Fax needed a last-minute try saving tackle from centre Steve Tyrer, Johnston and Will Sharp to deny winger Adam Clay what would have been the winning score.

“Scott had a knock, but possibly not,” said Marshall, when asked if he would make the same decision again.

“I held my hand up to the players afterwards on that one.

“We had Scott, Adam Tangata, Jacob Fairbank and Ben Kaye, who have all been carrying injuries, off at one point and we probably lacked a little direction.

“We still shouldn’t have found ourselves in that position, but I have to commend that defence in the last 60 seconds; it was a great long ball and I thought they were in.

“Our completion rate was awful overall; there was a spell in that second half when we got it together and started to pull away, but then dropped off again towards the end.

“We bombed three chances in the first half; Tyrer had the ball punched out, James looked like he could have put James Saltonstall away and there was a kick where a harder chase might have seen us score.

“There were some funny decisions that were big momentum swings which went against us as well.

“But they’re a good team Oldham and their league position probably belies how capable they are.

“Friday night was a big game and it probably took something out of us, but our skills were down and we need to play better than that.

“Four times we dropped the ball while we were playing it, that’s an individual responsibility, not a team thing.

“But we wanted two wins over Easter and we got them.”

While his team lost control of a contest they appeared to have under control, Marshall said he had seen enough in Woodburn-Hall’s brief playmaking cameo to tempt him to continue the experiment at some stage.

The Londoner, who played half back for the Broncos as a schoolboy, has been impressive at centre since breaking into the team last summer, but has been waiting for a chance at the scrum base.

“I’m not going to take anything away from James, I thought he did well at stand off,” said Marshall, whose side now sit fifth on the ladder, behind London on points difference but just two points behind Featherstone and Toulouse in a tightly-packed table.

“He looked a threat and kicked well.

“I’d like to revisit that one at some stage, because there’s something there and he’s been desperate to play in the halves.”

Marshall also had words of praise for the Australian forward Mitch Cahalane, Fax’s best player across the Easter weekend and outstanding for long spells against the Roughyeds.

“Mitch played a lot of minutes,” said Marshall.

“He’s playing really well; we had one front rower on the bench which put some extra responsibility on him and he did everything we asked him to.”

Fax take a break from league action this weekend, with Sunday’s fifth round Challenge Cup tie against Whitehaven at the Recreation Ground (3.0) next on their agenda.