Boss: Fax on back foot as Shield knockout stages loom

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Halifax coach Richard Marshall conceded his side are “on the back foot” just a fortnight out from the Championship Shield semi finals.

Fax slipped to a 28-26 reverse at Swinton on Sunday, with what looked like a spectacular late matchwinner from rookie centre Nick Rawsthorne being cancelled out by an even later score from Macauley Hallett, converted from near touch by Chris Atkin.

Marshall’s side have long been assured of a home semi final on September 25 - with Sheffield the most likely visitors - but with their attack misfiring and the injuries mounting, they are not looking like a team in form.

“We really wanted to bounce into these semi finals, but at the moment we’re on the back foot,” said Marshall.

“We need a performance next week against Workington at home to give us a bit of momentum now.

“That was probably a game that summed up our season.

“We put ourselves up against it, got back into it and then unravelled again at the end.

“Nick’s was a great try, he found some space, put his foot down and that should probably have been the game.

“I’m not sure what happened with that last try, whether they got the ball down or not, but it shouldn’t have come down to that.

“We weren’t good in the first half and Swinton were more desperate than we were; we need to play with more pride and passion than that.

“They were methodical; some dummy half scoots, two forward carries and a kick.

“Their kicking game was very good, but we didn’t put any pressure on the kicker.

“I was pleased with the way we managed to come back and it looked like we’d done enough to win.”

Fax’s plans were hampered by the loss of backs Chester Butler and Ben Heaton, with the latter leaving Heywood Road on crutches, which scotched Marshall’s plans to use Londoner James Woodburn-Hall at full back on his debut.

“We lost Ben, then we lost Chester,” said Marshall.

“Losing two outside backs like that affects the plan; we were going to use James at full back and have a good look at him, then after 12 minutes he’s playing on the wing.

“There was some disruption there and I’m just hoping it doesn’t impact on us going forward.

“Ben’s strained some ligaments and Chester’s got a hip injury.

“We’ll assess those two through the week.”