Harrison left to reflect on ‘cruel’ reverse

Dane Manning and Kurt Haggerty were both sent off
Dane Manning and Kurt Haggerty were both sent off

Halifax coach Karl Harrison was left to reflect on a “cruel game” after his side’s action-packed 26-24 defeat by leaders Leigh on Wednesday night.

Fax, who now host Workington at the Shay on Sunday (3.0), led 24-20 going into the closing minutes before a freak bounce that deceived full back Ryan Fieldhouse allowed Oliver Wilkes to put the Centurions ahead again.

Even then, Fax looked likely winners when Gareth Potts raced clear down the left, but the winger went for the corner rather than risk passing to the unmarked Fieldhouse on his inside.

“It’s cruel to lose a game on an error, but that’s rugby league,” said Harrison, who was without captain Scott Murrell and hooker Ben Kaye because of injury..

“I am not going to put any of the players down; players make decisions and sometimes they are right and sometimes they are wrong.

“You can’t look back and think ‘I wish I’d made a different decision’, because it’s gone.

“I thought Potts played really well overall and the team deserved something out of that, because I thought they were fantastic.

“Anyone who says there is a lack of commitment or desire in this squad is watching a different group of people to me.

“We started slowly, but we grew into the game and in the end we were unlucky not to win it.”

Fax trailed 12-0 early on after some scintillating attack from Leigh, but only trailed 18-12 at the break before both sides were left with 12 men after Dane Manning and Kurt Haggerty were sent off following a brawl.

Manning sparked the incident with a tackle on former teammate Sam Barlow, who was taken to hospital after the game with suspected facial fractures.

“I don’t want to comment in detail on that until I’ve seen it on video,” said Harrison.

“It obviously sparked something off, a lot like the game at the Shay earlier in the year.

“I thought there were some poor decisions round the ruck for both sides and the frustration from that spilled over.

“I shared my concerns after the last time we played and again before the game last night, but the same situations occurred.”

Harrison must now turn his attention to the Cumbrians, who held Fax to a 20-20 draw last month and are likely to be bolstered by the presence of dual-registered players from Super League giants Wigan.

“We’re back in on Friday night and see who’s available,” said Harrison, who will have winger Tommy Saxton in contention after finally prising the veteran back away from rivals Featherstone.

“Workington have been going well and we need to stick together after Wednesday and make sure we put the same kind of effort and energy into that game.

“Tommy’s been really good and we’ve secured his release.

“As it turned out, the paperwork came through on Wednesday afternoon and he could have played at Leigh but we couldn’t take the chance that he wouldn’t be available.

“We needed to pick the team before then, so Potts played instead.”