HALIFAX coach Matt Calland said his win-less champions had taken a “massive step backwards” after Sheffield Eagles piled on the agony with a 41-22 win at Bramall Lane.
The Eagles stormed to a 22-6 interval lead against a Fax side who undermined their chances of opening their Co-operative Championship account for 2011 with a stream of unforced errors.
And Calland, who saw his side booed off the field in South Yorkshire, did not pull his punches after the game.
“We looked like a team lacking in confidence and definitely lacking in form,” said Calland.
“Our defence wasn’t good at times, in fact it wasn’t good enough most of the time.
“That was certainly a massive step back from where we were in the first half against Featherstone last time out.
“We looked flat in the warm up, which was something we tried to address before the game kicked off, and we played flat.
“I will take it on the chin and look at what we are doing again.
“We will be back, I promise you that.”
Fax had taken the early lead through Joe Chandler and might have doubled that advantage when full back Miles Greenwood broke free, only for former Eagles wingman Rob Worrincy to spill the ball.
But Calland was in no mood to ponder what might have been.
“I didn’t think we deserved to win, no ifs or buts,” said Calland, who now faces a challenge to lift his side ahead of Saturday’s Northern Rail Cup quarter final in Toulouse.
“Sheffield ran harder than we did and played with enthusiasm, which is a major problem for us at the moment.
“We are miles off where we need to be.
“Everything that could go wrong did go wrong: dropping balls, going into touch, stepping on the deadball line.
“I think we made 19 errors out there which is far too many for you to win any game.”
HALIFAX’S under 23 side beat Sheffield’s second string 24-22 in South Yorkshire on Saturday.
Teenage stand off Anthony Bowman and axed first team centre Lee Paterson were both on the scoresheet, along with Josh Barlow, Seta Talatoka and Mark Goodman.
Paterson and another Grand Final winner, Stephen Bannister, kicked conversions.
Match report - pages 36-37