Halifax boss Richard Marshall praised his “17 warriors” after they went down 18-4 to Bradford Bulls in the first Summer Bash derby at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road on Saturday night.
Fax, led by inspirational skipper Scott Murrell, defied the odds to go toe to toe with James Lowes’ full-timers for long spells, but were undone by the former St Helens half back Lee Gaskell, who created two crucial tries, for Australian centre Adrian Purtell and full back Ryan Shaw, in the five minutes leading up to half time.
“I can’t say I’m disappointed; I’m full of admiration and respect for the players tonight,” said Marshall, who gave a senior debut to on loan Huddersfield teenager Tyler Dickinson and kept faith with trialist back rower Ed Barber.
“We don’t have a Gaskell or an Adrian Purtell at our club, but what we have is 17 warriors who worked really hard for each other.
“We haven’t got the points, but we have certainly improved from Good Friday when we last played them.
“The Halifax at the start of the season would have conceded two or three late tries in that game and it was pleasing to see some progress there.
“We were a better team; we worked on our defence and we had it in order for large parts of the game.
“Gaskell is very good for them, he is very lively round the ruck and he has a sleight of hand.
“I thought our number six was very good as well though; Scott kicked well, took the line on, I was impressed with him.”
“Young Tyler did okay. He got a knock and he put his hand up for one of the breaks and said he didn’t work hard enough.
“But he’s a big lump of a thing and there is something for us to work with there.
“We’ve got him for the next month and I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Fax’s try came from centre Ben Heaton, who continued his startling development under Marshall with another super finish.
“Ben’s strong; he scored a great try and nearly got another one, he was over the line again but they managed to hold him up,” said Marshall.
“There is some work in progress with Ben, there are some things he needs to add to his game that will make him an outstanding centre in this league.
“He is already a very, very good player in our team, but I am going to challenge him and ask him to do some other things that will make him even better.”
The downsides for Marshall were an early injury that forced Adam Robinson off the field and the sight of hooker Ryan Maneely limping off in the last five minutes.
“Adam pulled his calf in the first five minutes, he came off and said ‘Sorry, Rich’ but there’s nothing to apologise too, it’s one of those things,” said Marshall.
“Ryan went over on his ankle and hopefully it’s not too bad; we’ll wrap him in cotton wool this week before the trip to Workington next weekend.”