HALIFAX coach Matt Calland was critical of both the opposition’s tactics and the performance of referee Jamie Leahy after his side lost out 26-25 to Batley in the Northern Rail Cup yesterday.
Fax were leading 25-24, having hauled themselves back from a 22-6 half time deficit, when Leahy awarded Batley, coached by Fax legend Karl Harrison, a 40 metre penalty in stoppage time.
Half back Paul Handforth duly delivered the win for the reigning champions, sending them through to the last eight and putting Calland’s side in the position of needing at least a bonus point from Wednesday night’s trip to Whitehaven if they want to make the quarter finals.
It was a frustrating afternoon for the home side, but while Calland said he was “disappointed” with his players’ first half performance, he also took aim at both the Bulldogs’ play around the ruck and Leahy’s policing of the game.
“I will have to look at the tape, but I wasn’t pleased with how the game was refereed,” said Calland.
“He looked like he couldn’t keep up with the game, to be honest.
“We didn’t get any of the 50/50 calls from where I was standing, but I suppose that’s life sometimes.
“I am not a lover of some of the spoiling tactics that were displayed out there by Batley.
“They are good at holding you up and then dragging you towards the sideline, but that’s not rugby league for me.
“You should aim to win contact, but grabbing arms, grabbing legs, wrestling, all that does is slow the game down.
“They got away with it for 80 minutes and then as soon as we do a little bit of it we get penalised.”
The big positive for Calland was the way his side surged back from a seemingly impossible position to lead 24-22 and then 25-24 in the closing stages, with winger Rob Worrincy scoring twice to partially erase memories of a horror first half performance.
“I was really disappointed with the way we started and although we turned things around in the second half we’d left ourselves just a bit too much to do,” said Calland, who fielded back rower Stephen Bannister at centre after Australian Dylan Nash was a late withdrawal through illness.
“Sometimes that’s how it goes in sport, but I you could still argue we deserved to win the game.
“They were out on their feet at the end.
“I thought we showed true passion after the break; they showed how much character and commitment they have.
“We could easily have fallen away.
“It will be a tough game up at Whitehaven on Wednesday but we know what we have to do.
“We will be going all out to win.”