Halifax boss Richard Marshall said his side have “got what they deserved” after watching them secure a place in the Super 8s Qualifiers with a 28-6 thumping of Championship league leaders Hull KR.
Fax saved their best for the final day of the league season, unleashing a merciless onslaught that left Tim Sheens’ promotion hopefuls 24-6 adrift at half time before closing things out with miserly efficiency in the second half.
Marshall’s side leapfrogged Toulouse, who had put themselves back into the top four with a win over Featherstone - secured by a try 35 seconds from time - in France on Saturday night, to finish third in the final reckoning.
Fax will now have home games against Featherstone, Catalans Dragons and Widnes in the Qualifiers, with trips to London, KR, Warrington and Leigh.
“We’re in the competition we deserve to be in; a month ago we lost at Swinton and knew we needed to win four games, four difficult games, and we won them,” said Marshall.
“You get what you deserve and we’re the best part time team with the best defensive record in the competition.
“I was more nervous on Saturday night waiting for the Toulouse score than I was today.
“It would have been nice to have the pressure off, but it will have done us more good doing it the hard way rather than by a result in another game.
“I was proud of the way we played. We dominated Featherstone last week, but KR are a difficult class, with the spend they have and the players they’ve got.
“So to go toe to toe with them and be by far the better team on the day is really satisfying for all of us.
“We had players getting injections to be able to play today.
“Jacob Fairbank played with a broken hand, Simon Grix shouldn’t have played and wouldn’t have played if we’d not needed to win, but that’s they do, they stand up for their mates.
“There’s a few of them in that situation but I know they’re glad they played now.
“You need your big game players to play their best when it matters.
“Michael Sio was very good, he scored a try and had an influence on how we played; his talk on the field is good, which is a big thing.
“And Will Sharp has been phenomenal. From where he was last season to where he is now, he’s been fantastic.”
“It’s a good measure of a team how you come through adversity and this group have been positive all year, even when things have been difficult.”
That adversity started with a 10 per cent pay cut back in the autumn that sparked the exit of key back rower Dane Manning to Batley.
It was followed by the mid-season exits of three more senior players in Luke Ambler, Gareth Moore and Connor Robinson and capped by a late-season injury crisis that threatened to derail Fax’s challenge altogether.
The financial implications of victory against KR, which guaranteed a minimum £450K in central funding in 2018, mean Marshall’s players will claw back their 10 per cent but also that their coach has a fighting chance to keeping the core of his team in place.
“Financially, it’s a massive difference; we had a Plan A and a Plan B,” admitted Marshall.
“Plan B would have been very difficult, Plan A will still be difficult against four or five full time teams in the Championship next season, but we’re punching above our weight and we’re enjoying it.
“I wanted to try and keep the team together and be able to add to it, with quality, and that’s a more realistic aim now.
“But the season isn’t over; we’ve got some big games coming up and we’re going to make sure we enjoy them.”