HALIFAX coach Matt Calland believes his side are finally on the up in the Co-operative Championship after grinding out a 14-12 win over Sheffield at the Shay yesterday.
Fax reaped the benefits of football consultant Brian Noble’s focus on their defensive game to climb off the bottom of the league ladder.
They also remain in touch with the play off pack and now sit just five points shy of sixth-placed Widnes.
“We looked a lot more solid, and if we can make ourselves harder to score against we are going to be a lot harder to beat,” said Calland, who credited a second half tackle from Stephen Bannister, who hammered Eagles winger Vinnie Finnigan into touch when he looked a certain scorer, as the gamebreaker.
“I thought Bannister’s was the tackle that probably won the game.
“It showed how much desire there is in the team, but things have not been going for us.
“I think things are on the up now, at last.
“We are just concentrating on winning now as often as we can, and if we do that then we will move up the table and things like play off places will take care of themselves.”
But Calland was critical of aspects of his side’s performance, notably a short kick off attempt in the final minutes that came with the home side leading 14-12.
“There were some good things but also some bad things,” he said.
“We nearly threw it away there at the end.
“Our game awareness is terrible at times: Why would you do a short kick off when you are two points in front?
“With the ball we didn’t look as fluent, either.
“There were certainly positives, but also things we need to improve on.”
Fax now have a weekend off before the televised game at Leigh on June 2, with Calland expecting to welcome back half back Ben Black, who missed yesterday’s game with a combination of knee and shoulder problems.
“Ben was injured and Graham Holroyd has been ill so he’s not really figured,” said Calland.
“Ben should be back for the next game, which will allow us to rotate Sean Penkywicz and Bob Beswick.
“That should keep them from getting as tired and make them more effective with the ball.”
HALIFAX’S under 23 side kicked off the weekend with a 36-16 win over Sheffield at the Shay on Saturday afternoon.
Back rower Joe Chandler scored three tries, with Seta Talatoka (2), Ben Hinsley and Danny Moran also on the scoresheet for Martin Gonzalez’s side.