Marshall: Jury is out on playmaking experiment

Scott Murrell was in form at loose forward
Scott Murrell was in form at loose forward

Halifax coach Richard Marshall says the jury is out on the idea of fitting all three of his frontline playmakers into his matchday 17.

Fax edged past top four rivals Dewsbury 23-14 at the Shay on Sunday to lift themselves into sixth place in the Championship, two points shy of third-placed Bradford with a four point gap over the chasing pack.

For the first time, Marshall started the game with Gareth Moore and Ben Johnston at the scrum base, with skipper Scott Murrell on the bench.

Murrell emerged from the dugout to slot in impressively at loose forward and finished the game at half back, replacing Moore, who had scored Fax’s opening try, for the final 10 minutes of a tense, scrappy contest.

“I got a positive reaction from Scott; I thought he was excellent,” said Marshall.

“Putting your captain on the bench is a risk; it sends out a message to him and to the rest of the team and I thought he responded really well.

“He did his job very well and when we needed to shut the game down he came on and did that for us.

“But we need to do some more on those combinations with Johnston, Murrell and Moore.

“It was a bit of a risk and I’m not sure it paid off for us.

“There is some potential there though; look at Batley with Southernwood, Brambani and Walker, three really good pivots playing together in those positions and controlling teams.

“It can work for us, maybe not every week, but it can work for the team.”

Overall though, Marshall knows his side will probably need to do more if they want to clinch a second consecutive top four finish.

“We are getting through and doing enough, but we have high standards and just enough is not good enough, if I’m being honest,” he said.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Dewsbury, they had a few injuries, but we could have been a lot more clinical than we were.

“I thought the referee ran the game with two ruck speeds, one for them and one for us, and that impacted on us.

“It shouldn’t do, it really shouldn’t, but I think it did.

“We didn’t start very well, but we got stronger and we got better as the game went on.

“We had to, because Dewsbury were throwing everything at us, and some individuals made some really good defensive decisions without which we would have lost the game.

“The bottom line is that we needed to win though, and we did.

“I’ll reflect on it now and have an honest assessment with the players during the week.”