HALIFAX boss Karl Harrison lauded his young stars after his side thrashed previously unbeaten Sheffield 50-18 at Bramall Lane last night.
Harrison’s side were never behind against the 2011 Co-operative Championship Grand Finalists, turning a 20-6 interval lead into a crushing victory with 24 quick fire points in a little over 10 minutes at the end of the game.
And it was Fax’s up-and-coming talent that caught the coach’s eye, with a raft of players in their early 20s – outstanding back rower Dane Manning, full back Ryan Fieldhouse, centres Ben Heaton and Steve Tyrer and forwards Luke Ambler, Ross Divorty, Callum Casey – excelling on the night.
“We left some influential people out and some of those young kids in that dressing room are going to take some shifting,” said Harrison, who omitted wingers Paul White and Rob Worrincy, as well as former Eagles forward Sam Barlow.
“We have two or three tough old campaigners in there, but we also have a lot of hungry young bucks.
“You look in their eyes and you can see it; they are desperate to succeed.
“I thought we had some outstanding individuals in a really good team performance; the half backs, the front rowers, Dane Manning was fantastic.
“We defended very well on the edges, particularly on the right where we knew we were going to be tested and Manning, Heaton and Lee Paterson more than stood up to it.
“I thought the Featherstone performance in the Northern Rail Cup was on a par, but we showed a little bit more composure in defence last night.
“Featherstone was four or five weeks ago now and we have done a lot of work since then.
“The gameplan we put in place took away a lot of their attacking threats.”
Harrison pin-pointed a second half defensive effort, when the Eagles – trailing 26-12 going into the final quarter – piled the pressure on the visitors, as the decisive phase of a compelling contest.
“We had to defend seven sets on our own goalline at that stage, and although they scored on the seventh, I think a lot of teams would have folded for good at that point,” said Harrison, whose side now have eight days before taking on Keighley at the Shay on Good Friday.
“Energy levels would have gone down, but we came back strongly and scored some magnificent tries at the end to win the game.
“I don’t think Sheffield played badly, they’re a good side, a well coached side.
“I think we have sent a message out to the rest of the competition, which is what we wanted to do.”