HALIFAX boss Karl Harrison admitted his side’s Carnegie Challenge Cup loss at Leigh was “tough to take” after Martin Ridyard’s drop goal put Co-operative Championship rivals Leigh Centurions through to the last eight.
Ridyard struck in golden point extra time to break an 18-18 deadlock, which had been set up by Fax half back Paul Handforth’s coolly taken penalty on the last play of normal time.
And Harrison, who saw his side build a 16-6 half time lead in appalling conditions at the LSV, confessed to a mixture of emotions after the final whistle.
“It was one that got away and it’s a tough one to take; so close and yet so far,” said the former Great Britain prop.
“It’s a shame for the players because I thought they gave everything and then a bit extra.
“It was bitterly cold, very wet and I think all the players out there did it tough.
“I thought it was a game that got away from us because I thought we were the dominant side for long spells.
“We just weren’t quite good enough in the end to get the result we required, but I thought performance wise we did pretty well.
“We got some tough calls too, and the bounce of the ball didn’t seem to be with us at times, but I’m not getting into that one.
“We’ll move on to Featherstone next week and see what we can do there.”
Harrison made a number of changes to the side that had been beaten 32-18 by Leigh in the league a little over a week ago, drafting in forward Sam Barlow and winger Rob Worrincy.
Another forward, Iain Morrison, also made a shock comeback after a lengthy absence following knee surgery, while Leeds prop Luke Ambler started the game after Rhinos boss Brian McDermott gave the player the choice of whether to play or not.
“Morrison was probably a week earlier, but after last week I felt we needed the steel that he brings to the team,” said Harrison, who saw Barlow go close to setting up a matchwinner for full back Ryan Fieldhouse with an offload that almost found its mark.
“His presence on the field and in the dressing room is very good for us and I thought he was really good for us.
“Rob was great all game, and I thought Sam was pretty awesome at times to be honest.
“He still needs a little bit of work on his general fitness, but what he did was very, very good.
“He tried the pass to Ryan and it didn’t come off for us.
“Was it the right call? Are you better taking the tackle in that situation? I don’t know, but I’m not going to criticise him for trying.”
For Fax, the final result was compounded by the loss of young centre Ben Heaton, who was carried off midway through the second half.
“Ben’s got a suspected broken leg,” confirmed Harrison.
HALIFAX’S revamped under 18 side began life with a convincing 24-8 win over Hunslet at the South Leeds Stadium.