Marshall: We must win forward battle against Rams

Halifax struggled to contain Whitehaven in the middle
Halifax struggled to contain Whitehaven in the middle

Halifax coach Richard Marshall says the club’s forwards “cannot afford to roll over” when they head to Dewsbury in the Championship on Sunday (3.0).

Fax make the short trip down the M62 on the back of a 12-12 stalemate at Whitehaven last weekend, the visitors dropping a potentially crucial point in the race for a top four finish.

Marshall identified his side’s spiralling error count as a key factor - something midweek analysis of the game’s stats underlined - but was also concerned by the way Haven’s forwards achieved significant spells of superiority in midfield.

“Our levels dropped across the park, but we didn’t match them up front,” said Marshall.

“We did improve as the game went on, certainly in that final quarter when we put ourselves in a much better position, but generally they were more physical than we were.

“We cannot afford to roll over like that this weekend, because Dewsbury will have seen last week’s result and they’ll be very, very confident of taking a scalp on Sunday.

“They’ve been a little bit inconsistent this year, but they’ve got up for the big games and the home games all season.

“Our skill levels need to improve dramatically; we made 23 handling errors last weekend, turned the ball over 17 times and made 360-odd tackles.

“When you starting getting into numbers like that, you know you are going to struggle to win any game.”

Marshall’s team selection has been complicated by the potential absence of half back Gareth Moore, whose last-play try gave Steve Tyrer the chance to snatch a point with the conversion, who has suspected tonsillitis and a knee injury.

Several of Moore’s teammates have also been ill with stomach problems.

“You would have to say Gareth is a 50/50; he didn’t train on Tuesday,” said Marshall.

“I’m not sure the journey at the weekend did us any favours, we’ve a few lads who’ve had stomach problems since then.

“If Gareth doesn’t play, we’ll need to look at some other options in that area and players like Connor Robinson and Brandon Moore come into the frame.

“Matt Sarsfield missed training on Tuesday because he was with Salford, but we’re hopeful he’ll be available again.

“Simon Grix will play again, probably in a similar role to the one he played at Whitehaven.

“I think he was quietly satisfied with some of things he did in the game and also the way he recovered.

“He was able to train on Tuesday without any problems, which is a good sign for him after such a long absence.”

Marshall has also allowed another two players to leave the club on loan, with the forward Adam Robinson and centre Sam Smeaton joining League 1 York on month-long deals.