Halifax coach Richard Marshall offered a straightforward assessment of a mixed afternoon at Barrow, admitting rival coaches may be “rubbing their hands” at aspects of his side’s game.
Fax beat the struggling Raiders 48-22, with half back Ben Johnston scoring two tries as the visitors stayed fourth in the Championship with four games remaining.
Marshall’s side now face a crucial hat-trick of fixtures against direct rivals Featherstone, London and Toulouse before ending their regular season against Rochdale and could go as high as second if they beat Rovers at the Shay next Sunday and London overcome Toulouse.
“We made it hard work,” said Marshall.
“Barrow are a difficult team to play against, but they’re more difficult when you complete at 60-odd per cent like we did.
“You have to give them credit and respect, they ran us around a bit and got us a few times.
“I was very unhappy with conceding 22 points; we need to be defending better than that.
“The teams around us are scoring more and conceding less, so we need to be better.
“If I look at Joe Bullock running straight through us from the kick off today and I’m an opposition coach, I’m rubbing my hands.
“But at the same time I’m probably wary of the attack we have at the moment.
“I think the players are a bit frustrated despite the result, because there are things we say we are going to do and we’re not quite doing it.
“We knew we have a big game next week, but it would have been a lot bigger if we’d been turned over here.
“At 30-22 in the secoond half, when the referee gets in the way of the ball and they get another set of six….if they’d not dropped the ball from the scrum it might have been a different game.”
Fax were reduced to 12 men in the second half when prop Dan Fleming was sin binned for what looked like a needless challenge on Raiders’ half back Jamie Dallimore, sparking Barrow’s resurgence.
“There was some room to pull out of that contact and he chose not to,” said Marshall.
“We discussed it afterwards, what’s acceptable and what’s not, and Dan will be better for the experience.
“Let’s just hope it doesn’t cost him more than 10 minutes.
“I don’t think it will, but it’s not really what we’re about.
“He’s been pulling out of those in recent weeks and maybe with the heat today he lost his head a little bit.”
Marshall picked out Johnston and winger James Saltonstall as two highlights, along with Castleford’s Barrovian prop Will Maher, who was arguably Fax’s best forward against his hometown club.
“Ben looked really threatening, especially in the first half,” said Marshall.
“Kieren Moss scored a nice try off James Saltonstall; he’s playing outstanding, I’m happy with him at the moment.
“He flies in sometimes, he gobs off at the referee from time to time and he needs to get rid of all that from his game, but we need him out there at the moment; his go forward is brilliant.
“Will was great. He’s a Barrow lad and he wanted to come up here and rip in.
“He certainly did that, he was one of our standouts in the pack.
“I hope we have him next week as well.”