Halifax coach Richard Marshall praised a “big” defensive performance after his side cruised home 20-6 at Rochdale in the Championship.
The visitors fell behind after seven minutes at Spotland, but proceeded to keep Hornets - who had gone close to beating title favourites Hull KR a week ago - scoreless for the next 73, a significant step forward after conceding an average of 24 points in the opening three rounds.
Marshall’s side engineered an 8-6 lead by the break through an Ed Barber try and a conversion and a penalty from Steve Tyrer, who added a try and a second penalty after the break.
Winger Rob Worrincy clinched the spoils with a late touchdown after Hornets were reduced to 11 men following the sin binnings of Gary Middlehurst and Ben Moores for separate offences.
“We wanted to be better defensively and if you consider they scored after six or seven minutes, we kept them out for over 70, which was big for us,” said Marshall.
“They struggled to get out of their own half in that second half.
“They’re a good team, they’re still buoyant and they’ll beat some teams here year.
“They look like a Championship team, not a League 1 side.
“I don’t think the first half we said what we were going to do; they certainly played quicker than us in that first 20 minutes or so.
“We went for two points here and there from penalties, which is a bit cautious for us, but it was probably a reflection of the pressure the opposition put us under at times.
“The decision to go for the two was taken by the coaches; there was a point in the Featherstone game in round one when we should probably have taken two points and we reviewed things after that.
“It worked on this occasion, but there’ll probably be days when we still run those chances.
“Their line speed was very good, but in the second half we turned it on a bit and I thought our attack was fantastic at times.
“The sin binnings had an impact, but we were already in front by then and we were getting over the top of them in the middle.
“When we run those balls back on the angle sometimes players leave an arm out and that’s what happened today.
“We can’t control that though, we just focus on what we do with the ball.”
Fax skipper Scott Murrell was in dominant form, kicking brilliantly in open play and weighing in with some crunching defence.
And with back rower Simon Grix having arguably his best game since returning to his hometown club and centre James Woodburn-Hall tormenting Rochdale’s left side there were plenty of positives for Marshall.
“Scott kicked well, a couple of 40/20s, and I thought he just controlled the game,” said Marshall, who omitted dual-registered Salford duo Matthew Wilkinson and Ryan Lannon to accommodate the returning Adam Tangata and Ben Kaye.
“Simon was very strong on the right edge and James Woodburn-Hall was good again there.
“He’s an exciting player and I don’t think he knows how good he could be.
“There’s no ceiling for that young man.
“I also thought Mitch Cahalane had his best game of the year for us.
“As far as the dual-reg goes, I didn’t think we needed it today, but I’ll give priority to whoever is playing well.
“I wanted to use Tangata and Kaye, because I knew they’d be fresh and ready to play.”