HALIFAX coach Matt Calland admitted the focus of attention in training this week would shift to his side’s attacking game in the wake of yesterday’s 36-28 loss to second placed Batley at the Shay.
Karl Harrison’s visitors edged a compelling contest in the final five minutes when half back Paul Handforth converted Johnny Campbell’s touchdown to overhaul a Fax side who had turned a 22-6 deficit into a 28-24 lead.
It left Fax still scrabbling to make up ground on the six clubs currently occupying the play off places and Calland and coaching consultant Brian Noble with food for thought.
Calland’s post-match focus was on Fax’s work with the ball, with the home side struggling to break down their stubborn visitors.
“It’s something we need to look at this week, we made too many wrong decisions and hit the wrong man too many times,” said Calland, who saw his plans hampered by the early loss of forward David Larder with a nasty head wound and centre Lee Paterson with a knee injury.
“We are not getting it right and we are certainly not fluent.
“We are not asking enough questions and our kicking game was average at times.
“There is a lot of work to do with the pivots in terms of playing straight and decision making.
“It’s a question of working with the players we have, trying to improve them.
“It’s nothing we can’t fix, it’s just down to hard work in training.
“We knew they never go away and they proved that.
“I am not so sure whether we deserved to win it or not, but we had given ourselves the chance and it’s frustrating not to take that.
“Our defence was still pretty good, although we still have some issues on the right side, but we need to get a little sharper and a little bit smarter with the ball.”
Calland felt his side might have had a chance of snatching a share of the spoils when prop Sam Barlow appeared to be stripped of possession in front of the Batley posts after Fax regained the ball following Campbell’s try, but referee Tim Roby waved the claims away.
“I think the ref made the wrong call a couple of times, once in the build up to the penalty that put them eight points ahead in the second half and right at the end when Sam lost the ball,” said Calland.
“I thought he had it stolen and we would probably have gone on and got a draw if he had given the penalty.
“But you are going to get decisions like that go against you, you are going to get bad calls, and that’s not an excuse and it’s certainly not why we lost.”
HALIFAX’S under 23s came within a whisker of downing unbeaten league leaders Widnes at the Shay yesterday lunchtime, eventually slipping to a 30-24 defeat.
Martin Gonzalez’s side, who lost prop Josh Barlow to injury early in the game, were locked 24-24 until a late try and a penalty gave the Vikings the win.
Centre James Haley made a successful comeback from injury for Fax.
Widnes beat Sheffield 38-24 to maintain their push for a play-off place.
Kurt Haggarty scored a try and kicked five goals for the home side, with Kevin Penny also adding a brace.
Sheffield staged a late comeback with tries for Menzie Yere and Simon Brown, but the damage had already been done.
A Scott Turner hat-trick was not enough to save Dewsbury as the strugglers fell to a last-gasp 30-28 defeat at the hands of York.
The hosts looked to have done enough for victory until Dave Sutton crossed in the final minute.
Anthony Thackeray (two), Matt Garside and Ryan Esders grabbed the visitors’ other tries.