Marshall not expecting a reprieve in top four race

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Halifax coach Richard Marshall all but closed the door on his side’s chances of a top four Championship finish after seeing them slip to a frustrating 24-20 home loss to Featherstone on Sunday.

Fax led 14-12 at the break and then 20-18 midway through the second half, but were ultimately undone by an error count that saw Rovers score four tries in sets that followed Fax handling errors in their own half.

Fax slipped to sixth on the league ladder and while they could mathematically still move into the top four next weekend if they beat London and Batley lose at lowly Swinton, Marshall was clearly not a man expecting any miracles.

“We just had to win, didn’t we?,” said Marshall, whose side now look likely to contest the Championship Shield competition rather than the Qualifiers, costing the club upwards of £200,000 in additional RFL funding.

“I thought it was a quality game and we had a lot of good efforts in there, but it wasn’t enough.

“We put ourselves back in the picture twice after being behind, in the first half and in the second, but I just felt that their middle players rolled us down the centre of the park and they’ve got a couple of skilful half backs who kept getting us back on the inside.

“I thought they were the better team and we actually stopped two or three tries with some outstanding defensive efforts; there were a couple in the second half from Ben Heaton and James Saltonstall in particular.

“It’s a disappointing result, but we came up against a team that was better than us on the day.

“We didn’t execute our plans as well as we could have done, but there is no way you can fault the effort or the determination.

“There were some errors that hurt us and it’s just concentration, keeping hold of the ball, getting up and playing it.

“Their tries in the first half and a couple in the second came from those individual errors, but no one makes those on purpose.

“You have got to be able to defend those mistakes better than we did today.

“As a team, we need to be better than that.

“We’ll come out against London next weekend, try and win and then get ready for the rest of the season.”

Fax host the Broncos at the Shay next Sunday and already look certain to be without centre Steve Tyrer, who suffered a suspected broken arm in a second half collision.

Back rower Matt Sarsfield also withdrew with an arm issue and hooker Connor Robinson finished the game despite a first half head injury that saw him leave the field.

“Steve’s probably broken his arm, Connor had a head knock and Matt had to come off in the second half,” said Marshall.

“When you take those into account, they are big losses and it impacted on the changes we were able to make.

“Simon Grix ended up at centre and he had been playing well in the back row; he was a real threat in that first half on the left side.

“These things happen though, and you need to try overcome adversity like that.

“We need to come in next week, work hard and go again against London.”