Attacking revamp pays dividends for Harrison as Fax move up to third

Fax coach Karl Harrison with assistant Lee Greenwood
Fax coach Karl Harrison with assistant Lee Greenwood

Halifax boss Karl Harrison confirmed he made significant changes to his side’s attacking strategy ahead of Sunday’s free-flowing 42-24 Championship win over Rochdale on Sunday.

Fax racked up their highest league score for more than three months on a day when defeats for top-two rivals Doncaster and Featherstone saw them climb to third in the table, just three points behind Andy Hay’s Rovers.

The home side, who had captain Scott Murrell back in harness at loose forward, played with a freedom that has been notable by its absence recently, with Wales back rower Ross Divorty the big beneficiary as he ran in four tries.

“We changed quite a bit this week,” said Harrison, whose side led 16-6 at the break..

“We felt that we haven’t been scoring enough points and need to play to different areas of the field to try and change that.

“We played a tighter game in the middle and got the ball wider a little bit quicker.

“We bombed three or four more tries, had two chalked off for forward passes, but we got a win and scored 40 points for the first time in a while.

“We got the three pivots back out there in Murrell, Simon Brown and Ben Johnston and while it’s a work in progress, it looked pretty good.

“That combination didn’t work earlier in the year, but we have been doing some work on it and you could see the benefits of that.

“We asked more questions of the defence and we looked a more dangerous team.

“I thought Luke Ambler was fantastic and I was really pleased for Divorty, who’s had a great season so far.

“The game plan suited him; we had Johnston playing a little bit straighter, which makes more room for Ross and he really exploited that.”

The downsides for Harrison were a frustrating defensive effort after the break, with Hornets trading tries with their hosts until the last 10 minutes, and a shoulder injury sustained by centre Steve Tyrer.

“We conceded too many points and we started that second half a bit soft,” said Harrison, whose side now travel to Sheffield next Sunday (2.0).

“We didn’t set ourselves the correct standards early on, they got a try and got some confidence from that.

“Steve’s had a sore shoulder for a few weeks and he got a direct hit on it.

“He could be two or three weeks.”