Grix: Boxing Day outing a reality check for Fax’s young players

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Halifax player-coach Simon Grix has described the Boxing Day friendly against Championship rivals Featherstone as an “eye opener” for the club’s young players.

Fax fielded a side mixed with youth and experience from the off, but played significant stretches of the second half with their senior stars watching from the dugout.

And that was reflected in the scoreline, with a 10-8 interval scoreline blowing out to 38-14 by full time as Jon Sharp’s Rovers, who maintained a stronger side throughout, eased to victory.

“It was the cliched game of two halves,” said Grix, who took charge of the side on the day, with head coach Richard Marshall sitting alongside him in the stand.

“I thought we looked strong and fit in that first half, then in the second half we had a lot of young boys out there and things got away from them a little bit.

“That’s what these friendlies are for and I think it showed them that the lapses in concentration you might get away with at reserve level you won’t get away with against these types of players.

“The game management in the second half and the defensive lapses were pretty poor, but it’s a learning experience for them.

“We had a 10 minute spell where we didn’t win a tackle really; they’re not used to that level of physicality, playing against men.

“It’s an eye opener for them in terms of what’s required to play at this standard.”

The major plus for Fax was an encouraging opening half from playmaker Connor Robinson, who took advantage of the absence of Ben Johnston at full back to hint at his own potential in that position.

“In my opinion, out of the options we have for full back Connor is the most natural ball player,” said Grix, who has been acting as Marshall’s right hand man, alongside skipper Scott Murrell, since last season’s assistant coaches Chris Rose and Marlon Billy were dropped as a cost cutting measure.

“We have Johnno who can be a threat from back there as well, but they’re different kinds of players.

“Overall, I thought Luke Nelmes went well at prop and young Morgan Punchard showed some good touches at half back.

“Morgan’s got some natural ability, but he’s physically very young and we might not see a lot of him over the next 12 months.

“He needs to improve his game management which is something not everyone has at a young age, but he’s definitely a personality and a player for the future.

“He’ll be buzzing off the break he made in the first half for a while; I’m sure we’ll hear plenty about that at training this week.”