‘We have given ourselves a chance’ - Simon Grix praises Halifax Panthers stars after great win over Toulouse sees them into play-off positions

Halifax Panthers’ head coach Simon Grix believes the sensational 26-18 victory over second place Toulouse has given his side ‘a chance’ of making the Championship play-offs.
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Indeed, tries from James Saltonstall, James Woodburn-Hall, Ben Kavanagh and Lachlan Walmsley helped Fax to what could turn out to be a season-defining win, as they, temporarily, went above Widnes Vikings and Batley Bulldogs into that all-important sixth spot.

Before the crucial contest, Grix had requested the Panthers’ “best performance of the season” to beat a Toulouse side who had won their previous six successive games. Did he witness that?

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“Yeah, it was up there,” Grix, who will be leaving his role at the end of the season, answered. “We got what we deserved tonight. Sometimes, infrequently, you don’t get what you deserve, where someone might get a luckyish try and pip you in a game but we deserved that tonight. We defended with real intent and got a few nice plays.”

Simon Grix, head coach of Halifax Panthers. (Photo by Simon HallSimon Grix, head coach of Halifax Panthers. (Photo by Simon Hall
Simon Grix, head coach of Halifax Panthers. (Photo by Simon Hall

He added: “We can tap ourselves on the back as we have given ourselves a chance which I am happy with.

“We have kept ourselves alive and now we sit back and watch the results come in tomorrow (Sunday) and see if we have any help.”

Woodburn-Hall had an exceptional 80 minutes at full-back, while scrum-half Joe Keyes, in only his third game back since injury, was voted as the sponsors’ man of the match.

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Grix said: “I thought Keyesey’s presence on the field, and his presence of mind and kicking game, was really evident tonight.

“He’s not scoring the tries and running through, but he is showing more and more since he returned. He was putting the ball in the right place and giving chances to start our sets in the right area and nullify their threats.

“Woody was great. He has been pretty consistent for the majority of the year. To a man they were good though. Salty (James Saltonstall) is not known for whacking people but he got one or two decent ones tonight and did his usual shift at the back for us.

“Across the board they were all really good. I am really happy for Tom (Inman). I get plenty of stick when he doesn’t play. But that’s what happens when you’re young, you have to bide your time, especially when other people have got yards on the board.

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“He has been frustrated and it has been difficult leaving him out. He showed a bit of maturity. He got his skill right and he relaxed into it. I thought he did a good job. He definitely kept them on their toes and came up with a lovely kick at a good time in the game.

“I could go on about them as they all had a really good dig. Our effort has been mega all year but the intent bit has been off, as well as our discipline, of course. But tonight we pinned them in their end and in games gone by we’ve gone one great tackle, two great tackle, got them wobbling here, then penalty and we give teams pressure releases.

“But we were able to be pretty clean tonight which is great.”