Grix unhappy with forwards after narrow Challenge Cup loss

Halifax coach Simon Grix took the unusual step of criticising his side’s forwards in the wake of Saturday afternoon’s fourth round Challenge Cup loss to Sheffield.
Fax celebrate Jodie Broughton's tryFax celebrate Jodie Broughton's try
Fax celebrate Jodie Broughton's try

Fax went down 20-18 in a nailbiter at Belle Vue, with Oliver Davies’ late try finally tipping the contest the way of the Eagles.

It was Fax’s second two-point defeat in a week after Tuesday night’s 18-16 Championship reverse against Dewsbury and followed their 18-17 win over the Eagles on the opening day of the league season.

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“It was a close game, in awful conditions,” said Grix, who praised his side’s backline - particularly metre-making centre James Saltonstall - but admitted his team’s engine room was causing him concern.

“This feels like a repetitive interview, after the last couple of performances.

“Based on the first half, Sheffield probably deserved to win. Based on the second, maybe we deserved to win.

“Saltonstall, Robinson, Grix, Broughton; I thought they were all good.

“Saltonstall, in particular, was class.

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“But I didn’t think our forwards were where they needed to be, either offensively or defensively.

“Something has to change. We can’t keep dishing up the same stuff and having the same cliched rhetoric after the game and a nice chat.

“We are almost there. We are preparing well, but we’re not delivering on the weekend and we can’t keep going like that.

“I don’t think we are miles off, but we do need some more steel through the middle, both in defence and with the ball.”

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Grix’s options have been limited by the loss of prop or back rower Ben Kavanagh to long-term injury, while the ultra-reliable Elliot Morris missed Saturday’s game with an unspecified injury and is expected to see a specialist this week.

Nevertheless, Fax recovered from a slow start, which saw them go 10-0 behind, to level at 10-10 at the break and then twice lead in the second half.

“I’m not sure half time can be repeated,” said Grix, whose side host York next weekend in the Championship.

“I just said that they’re making the right noises, but the actions aren’t matching the words.

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“I told them that if we did the same again, it would be a comfortable Sheffield win.

“We turned it round, put some blocks together where we put them under pressure, won some penalties and scored some nice tries.

“We just let them out of their own end too easily though, especially at the end with a couple of indifferent kicks that weren’t smart enough.”