Fax miss out again, but post solid effort against Super League Salford

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Halifax’s pre-season campaign concluded with a third loss as Salford edged home in a competitive Colin Dixon Memorial Trophy clash at the Shay.

Ian Watson’s Red Devils, fielding their best available side, won 13-6, but only after a performance from the home side that yielded far more promising signs than the defeats against Featherstone and Widnes.

There were still shortcomings, Richard Marshall’s side have still not found a recipe to score points - with just three tries in three games - but generally they looked energetic and organised, especially in defence.

The home side began with a sharpness that had been conspicuous only by it’s absence against Featherstone and Widnes, playing quick down the middle of the field and captain Scott Murrell weighing in with an on-song kicking game.

They got their reward when an attack down the right flank - where the returning Ben Heaton and Simon Grix added plenty of quality - took them close to the line and the ball moved infield, where half back Ben Johnston wriggled through the line and scored by the posts.

Steve Tyrer kicked the conversion for a 6-0 lead which they held for almost 10 minutes, which was as long as it took for Salford to level matters through a close-range Craig Kopczak try, converted by Michael Dobson.

Salford offered plenty of attacking threat as the half wore on, but the home defence coped well enough, with Heaton doing a fine job of wrapping up the dangerous Junior Sau.

With the ball, the home side lacked some punch when starting props Mitch Cahalane and Adam Tangata left the field at the end of the first quarter, but with Ryan Boyle and Jacob Fairbank expected to return for the league opener against Featherstone, Marshall has some cause for optimism there.

The second half started with a second Salford try, from hooker Kris Brining’s direct scoot, which was converted by Dobson but Fax came more and more into the contest in the third quarter, carving out decent half chances for Ed Barber and Steve Tyrer, both of which were only denied by last ditch defence.

And they were almost level inside the final minutes, Chester Butler - the grandson of the late, great Dixon - storming clear down the left only to be collared a couple of metres short of the whitewash.

Salford made sure of their success in the final seconds, Robert Lui kicking a drop goal that prompted a few derisive boos from the stands.

Halifax: Robinson; Saltonstall, Tyrer, Heaton, Worrincy; Murrell, Johnston; Ambler, Kaye, Cahalane, Grady, Grix, Tangata. Subs: Bent, Barber, B. Moore, G. Moore, Butler, Nelmes, Morris

Salford: Evalds; Carney, Sau, Welham, Johnson; Lui, Dobson; Kopczak, Brining, Mossop, Huaraki, Flanagan, Lannon. Subs: Tasi, Griffin, Wilkinson, Krasniqi, Bibby, Murray, Wood, Walne

Referee: A. Haigh