Halifax coach Richard Marshall said he expects his team to improve over the course of the Super 8s Qualifiers after they pushed Widnes Vikings all the way in a Shay thriller.
Late tries from Chris Gerrard and newly-signed Australian centre Charly Runciman sealed a 14-0 win for the Vikings, but did scant justice to an ironclad defensive effort from the home side.
Marshall’s part-timers were level at 0-0 at the break and had chances to win the game with the score at 4-0 inside the last 10 minutes.
“There wasn’t a lot between the teams,” enthused Marshall, who saw his side win plenty of praise from rival coach Denis Betts.
“I thought we did a great job defending Kevin Brown and some of their key threats.
“In those last few minutes at 4-0, if Mitch Cahalane gets over the line or gets someone on his shoulder, the whole complexion of that game changes.
“There were a few things; little ricochets, some refereeing decisions in the first half, and it all probably added up to those two late tries when we were a bit tired.
“The players feel they didn’t play their best with the ball, but we were happy with lots of areas as well and if we can get up to something like our best, then look out.
“I expected us to play well, but I didn’t know our defence would be as good as it was.
“I think we’ll get used to the speed and the way these games are going to be refereed.
“I’m really pleased with our pack; they’re confident, they know they can compete physically and they won’t take a backward step.
“As long as we’ve got that, we’ve got a chance in these games.
“With a bit more structure and discipline, that could have been a different game and the challenge now is to make those improvements at Hull KR next weekend.
“On the Super League table, Widnes are the best team and Hull KR are the second best, so it’s a good challenge for us.
“The players will be back at work tomorrow, but I’ve asked them to look after themselves and try and get some recovery work done as well.”
Fax’s attacking options were reduced by the loss at half time of winger Tommy Saxton, who suffered a recurrence of a back problem.
“Tommy got a spasm in his back, which was unfortunate because he was playing well,” said Marshall.
“Having said that, I thought James Saltonstall on the other wing probably did Tommy’s carries as well as his own in that second half; he was going from dummy half and then getting back in there and going again.
“Ben Johnston was dangerous and Dane Manning got through so much work again.
“Dane was a bit disconsolate because he made a couple of errors, but I’ve told him the other aspects of his game more than compensates for those.”