Halifax coach Richard Marshall pledged his side would “come out fighting” when they return to the Shay after six weeks on the road for next Sunday’s derby against Bradford Bulls (3.0).
Fax missed a gilt-edged chance to pull level with fourth-placed Toulouse, who were shocked by lowly Dewsbury, when they lost out 13-12 at Swinton on Sunday.
Marshall’s side, who lost half back Ben Johnston to a hip injury early on and back rower Ed Barber later in the game, trailed 10-0 at the break after a sub-par first half.
Tries from Josh Wood and Mitch Cahalane, both converted by Steve Tyrer, put them 12-10 ahead in the second half, but a farcical sequence of play saw Swinton level with a Chris Atkin penalty.
The Lions half back, a rumoured target for Fax next season before agreeing a two year deal at Hull KR, then kicked the winning drop goal with 76 minutes on the clock.
“We are a bit beaten up, bruised and down on our performance,” said Marshall.
“It wasn’t our best, certainly not our best.
“It’s a chance we’ve missed, even getting a point I wasn’t sure about, there were no messages going on to go for a drop goal.
“Our game management in that last 20 minutes wasn’t good enough, we panicked.
“These games are coming thick and fast now and we’ve basically got four Grand Finals coming up back to back, let’s be honest.
“We’ll stick together and coming out fighting next week for what is a massive game, maybe the biggest game during my three years here.”
Marshall refused to place the burden of responsibility on either Brandon Moore, who was in the sin bin when Swinton scored their second try and conceded the initial penalty from which Atkin tried - but failed to level the scores at 12-12 - or Tyrer, who launched the 20 metre restart into touch to give the half back a second, easier, chance.
“We can’t blame individuals, we shouldn’t have put ourselves in that position as a team,” said Marshall.
“Brandon’s been great this year and he was great in that second half when he came out of the sin bin.
“They’re a frustrating team to play against, but we have to keep our standards.
“We didn’t today and we got unravelled.
“Overall, we tried hard, but we didn’t try hard enough in the first half.
“That’s two weeks running our first half has been poor.
“We lost Johnston, we lost Barber, we were playing with 15 men.
“We were up against it injury wise; we had five players out there from other clubs.
“We’ll look at it in the week and try and get the best team we can on the field next weekend.
“Swinton defended really well on their own line in that first half and it seemed to frustrate us.
“We had a couple opportunities we’d normally have taken, but they created a couple and finished them off.
“We probably got what we deserved. They were the better side, I’ve no qualms about that.”