Fax stay on course in Championship after blitzing Lions

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Halifax coach Richard Marshall was left to praise a sparkling team performance after his side steamrollered Swinton 62-12 at Sale to keep themselves on track for a top four Championship finish.

Marshall’s side, beaten at the Shay by the Lions in a bizarre contest in the spring, won the game in the opening half hour, opening up a 28-0 lead after blitzing their hosts down the middle of the field.

Their success means that two wins from three testing final fixtures - at leaders Leigh next Sunday (3.0) and then at home to Featherstone and London - should be enough to secure a second consecutive appearance in the lucrative Super 8s Qualifiers.

“They gave us a bit of a dust up at our place earlier in the year and we’ve returned the favour now,” said Marshall, whose side saw their third place on the league ladder bolstered by Bradford’s last-gasp 22-20 loss at Leigh.

“We are going away pleased with what was a really good team performance.

“I don’t really think anyone stood out above the team, everyone did their jobs today.

“Swinton are a good attacking team, but we were a very good attacking team today; 60-odd points on the scoreboard tells its own story.

“I spoke to the players at half time and asked them whether they wanted to do a bit of a wider shift and attack them on the edges a bit more.

“But they kind of poo-pooed that idea and wanted to stick with what had worked for them; be ruthless and keep doing what they were doing.

“It was probably the right call from the team on that one.

“They did it really well, apart from a scruffy 10 minutes in the middle of that second half.

“If Bradford had won it wouldn’t have taken anything away from what we did, but it shows how close it is.

“We’ve got the hardest run in of everyone, with Leigh away and then Featherstone and London at home.

“But we’ve got a competent team at the moment though so we’ll see how we go.”

While Marshall was reluctant to single out individuals, Ben Johnston signalled another step forward in his fledgling development at full back, scoring a try and making two more as Fax took the game by the scruff of the neck in the opening quarter.

“Ben’s growing into that position a bit now,” said Marshall.

“It’s a difficult place to play, and you need to be everywhere offensively and defensively, and he did that today.

“He’s had three games there now and he did a real good job for us.

“We’ve got to manage him now, continue to develop his game and get the players around him working with him.”

Centre Ed Barber led the try scoring with a hat trick, vindicating Marshall’s decision to rest Ben Heaton, despite the in-form threequarter being cleared to play after being knocked unconscious at Bradford last weekend.

“That was my call; Ben went through the specialist on Friday and they cleared him to play,” said Marshall, who was also without Salford loanee Matt Sarsfield.

“I just thought the way he looked on Tuesday, his body language, made my mind up really.

“He was better by the end of the week, but I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardise him or the team.

“The players who came in did an admirable job, so that’s a big positive.”