Grix closes door on play off chances after Rovers reverse

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Halifax coach Simon Grix shut the door on the club’s Championship play off hopes as they slipped to defeat on their return to the Shay.

West Yorkshire rivals Featherstone won 24-18 as Fax christened the ground’s newly-laid playing surface, a result that kept Rovers in the fifth and final play off spot, eight points clear of Grix’s side with eight rounds remaining.

Fax trailed 18-6 going into the final quarter but pulled themselves level with two Steve Tyrer tries in two minutes before Josh Hardcastle grabbed a late winner for the visitors.

“It would mean us flipping everything on its head,” said Grix, who nevertheless struck a more upbeat note after his side took their opponents to the wire.

“Realistically, we to start thinking about finding a performance rather than the top five, because we’re just not playing well enough.

“We gave ourselves too much to do again today, but it’s probably the most encouraged I’ve felt over the last few weeks because we looked like a side that had got some desire back.

“We did stretch them, but generally our execution at the moment is not good enough, whether that’s kicking the ball straight into touch, passing into touch, seven tackle sets.

“There are just too many of them at the moment.

“Effort-wise, we were really good, we dragged ourselves back into it and managed to put ourselves in a position to win,

“Even if you just take a handful of those mistakes out we’d have had a fair chance, but we are hurting ourselves and each other by doing more defending than we need to.

“The message was to be more conservative at the start of the game, complete the first four sets, feel our way into the game; we didn’t do that.”

Grix fielded a team missing key players in key positions, with player-coach Scott Murrell missing through injury and hooker Brandon Moore ruled out through suspension.

Fax started with Ben Johnston and Quentin Laulu-Togagae at the scrum base, with mixed results, and had rookie Castleford hooker Jacques O’Neill on the bench.

“We didn’t have Scott,” said Grix, whose team fly out to Canada on Thursday ahead of Saturday night’s game against Toronto (6.0).

“Everyone will say he isn’t fit, which is pretty obvious, and he’s got some knocks and he’s not been playing well.

“But there has to be life after Murrell, there has to be another answer.

“It is what it is; the people on the pitch today knew what to do to minimise the impact of that and we didn’t get it done.

“Jacques trained twice and he was a bright spark; he’s tough and aggressive.

“There were some good efforts in there overall.

“But the bottom line is that we just aren’t playing well enough for long enough.”