Marshall: Character helped us dodge bullet in Challenge Cup
Halifax coach Richard Marshall suggested character rather than skill was the deciding factor in his side’s come-from-behind 28-24 Challenge Cup win at Hunslet on Sunday.
The out-of-form visitors looked poised to slip on a League 1 banana skin when they trailed 16-6 at the break and then 18-6 early in the second half against Gary Thornton’s outfit, with two of the home side’s three tries coming direct from Fax errors.
In the end, it took late scores from forwards Elliot Morris and Liam Cooper to pull the game out of the fire and send Fax into Monday night’s draw.
“We knew it wouldn’t be an easy game; I think they’re the best team in League 1 and that was evident today,” said Marshall.
“We’re not playing the way we’d like to play, although we showed some signs in the second half to get back into the game.
“We’re in the next round, and when you play in a Cup game, you think back to this time last year when we got beat by Oldham.
“There was a lot of character on show to get ourselves in a winning position when we just kept throwing the ball over the sideline or on the floor.
“Individuals have to take responsibility for keeping hold of the ball.
“As a team we need to be a lot better in that area.
“It was terrible today; the lack of respect we show for the ball is woeful.
“Those passes aren’t in the plan.
“People would want the scoreboard to be better, I know I would.
“But our away form has been awful, so to come back from that deficit is testament to the character of the players.
“We fired into them at half time and they responded.
“We have been in that position before this year and folded.
“It’s good that we did that, we’ve not seen that much this season.”
Marshall made a series of key tactical changes with his side trailing 18-6, with captain Scott Murrell going to hooker, with Quentin Laulu-Togagae moving into the halves and youngster Reece Chapman-Smith coming on at full back.
And with young substitute forward Will Calcott - who played for Hunslet last week on dual-registration - finally getting the visitors moving forward, Fax suddenly had some spark.
Murrell carved out a try for QLT, while Chapman-Smith’s torpedo bomb created Morris’s crucial score.
“We changed the team around a little bit early in the half and that helped give us some momentum,” said Marshall, who had to recall winger Will Sharp after centre Chester Butler - who has been sidelined for 12 weeks with a quadricep injury - broke down and failed a fitness test.
“We rolled them in that spell; we got the penalties we deserved because we were leaving defenders on the floor and scored a couple of nice tries.
“It just changed the dynamics of what we were doing; Reece has a kicking game and he put a really good kick up for Elliot’s try.
“I wouldn’t say it won us the game, but it went a long way towards it.
“I’d like to get Reece in the team and get him going now.
“I thought Steve Tyrer was immense, he really showed he wanted to be in the next round.
“Will Calcott was really good, Liam Cooper did well.
“Those young boys mixed it up with some experienced forwards.
“They deserve to be looked at over the next few weeks now because today was an opportunity for them.
“Cally doesn’t say very much, but he just goes about his business.
“That’s what we need over the next few weeks; people who are going to do rather than say.”