Fax ‘not in crisis’ after narrow loss, insists coach

Scott Murrell touches down for Fax
Scott Murrell touches down for Fax

Halifax coach Richard Marshall remained relatively calm about his side’s predicament after they slipped to a sixth consecutive defeat.

Fax, bolstered by the return of key forwards Dane Manning and Jacob Fairbank, lost 24-22 to Dewsbury in the Championship Shield in an error-strewn contest at the Shay.

The home side led 16-10 at the break, but finished the afternoon empty handed to reinforce the impression that Marshall, the 2015 Championship Coach of the Year in his first season in a top job, is facing the most significant test of his fledgling career.

“We’re not in crisis,” said Marshall, who tried to take the positives from an afternoon when his team were a long way from their best.

“We are not in a good place though, and it’s my responsibility to look at that.

“We’re bitterly disappointed; we showed some real effort in that second half, but we gifted them two or three tries.

“I thought we improved defensively on last week, we had a bit more control around the ruck.

“We are not as good in good ball as we have been and we need to be better there.

“Our completion rates are shocking and our skill levels are not good enough.

“We’re not learning from our mistakes, the evidence is clear on that, and we need to start doing.

“We kept putting up kicks for one of the best catchers of a ball in the division in Guzdek, which gave him the platform to showcase his skills really.

“People know what they need to do, we do practice during the week, and we should have mixed it up a bit more.

“We’ve got too many players who aren’t in form.

“Dane Manning has come back in and done a really good job after eight weeks.

“It’s a statement on the rest of the team when someone who hasn’t played for that long comes in and produces that type of performance.”

Despite their loss, Fax are now assured of a place in the last four of the Shield with fifth-placed Oldham now nine points behind with only eight to play for.

“We’re not looking at that, we just need to get some form,” said Marshall, whose sole public criticism of some apparently inconsistent officiating was a questionable second half conversion from Tom Hemingway.

“We prepared to win this game and I envisaged us winning this game, but Dewsbury ground it out in that last 10 minutes.

“They probably deserved it, but there was a dubious call on that goal kick.

“The touch judge who was right on that post waved it away, but the referee overruled him.

“I don’t think it was a conversion; the touch judge who was in the best position didn’t give it.

“We shouldn’t be in that position though.”