Marshall: Attitude the biggest difference as Fax down Eagles

James Saltonstall was outstanding for Fax
James Saltonstall was outstanding for Fax

Halifax coach Richard Marshall said a change of attitude was at the root of his side’s Championship thumping of Sheffield Eagles on Sunday.

A week after being humiliated at Batley, Fax opened their account for the year with a free-flowing 42-16 demolition of Mark Aston’s outfit.

Winger James Saltonstall led the scoring with a hat trick that crowned an outstanding individual performance as Fax turned an 18-6 half time lead into a big win.

“Attitude was the biggest difference,” said Marshall, who watched on loan Huddersfield hooker Adam O’Brien, who only met his new teammates for the first time on Thursday night, make a crisp debut for his hometown club.

“We were backed into a corner this week and we dealt with that and played well.

“We had an open and honest review after the Batley game and we took a big step forward today.

“The forwards came through for us after some criticism, from me and themselves.

“For confidence, we needed to win, even if it doesn’t make or break our season.

“The team took some pride in what they did today.

“We had some passion, desire and heart and proved a point.

“When I looked at the teams, I thought Sheffield looked like a team that had come to run through us down the middle.

“If we’d felt sorry for ourselves and not stood up, it might have worked.

“We need to improve defensively; Sheffield are a good team and we had a 10 minute spell late in the game where we lost our discipline and with it our shape.

“I want an 80 minute team out there.”

O’Brien’s vision at dummy half, coupled with some incisive runs from the young Salford number nine Matthew Wilkinson, created an attacking momentum that gave Fax’s backline room to move for the first time this year.

“Our attack was a lot more fluent, with the half backs taking the line on and the distribution from dummy half,” said Marshall, who also reserved some praise for Saltonstall, who formed an scintillating back three with the returning Will Sharp and former Eagle Rob Worrincy.

“We were prepared to get our nose through the line, get down and play the ball quick.

“We threw a team together during the week really and I thought it gelled pretty well.

“We had Adam come in, young Ryan Lannon from Salford up front and Matthew Wilkinson at hooker again.

“All credit to the players for making it work.

“Adam really took some opportunities down that short side, working with a very smart player in Simon Grix and James Woodburn-Hall.

“Those opportunities are there many, many times in games; it’s whether you see that and have the confidence to exploit them fully.

“I thought James Saltonstall gave us a different dimension today, he’s really developing.

“We know he can run and stand up and play the ball and be a nuisance, but he was better than that.

“He stood his winger up really well for his second try, he held his touchline well, came in when he needed to.

“We wanted something different at full back today and Will offered us that.

“He was strong in the backfield and really kick started some of those attacks for the other outside backs.”