Halifax coach Richard Marshall remained upbeat after his side’s 12-10 loss to Toulouse at the Shay on Sunday, although he admitted his side’s decision making had let them down.
Fax trailed 10-8 against the French side going into the final quarter of a contest played out in constant rain, before a Steve Tyrer penalty levelled the scores at 10-10 with 15 minutes remaining.
The home side looked to be in position to snatch the points as captain Scott Murrell lined up a probable drop goal attempt with four minutes remaining, only for half back partner Ben Johnston to lose the ball attempting a blind side play.
Toulouse then clinched the win with a late penalty after the outstanding Jacob Fairbank had been penalised at the ruck, one of a string of contentious decisions by Super League referee Chris Campbell, who had awarded Toulouse’s first try despite the player appearing to miss the ball completely.
“Our discipline and footballing smarts let us down today,” said Marshall, who contrasted his side’s approach play with Toulouse’s outstanding Cook Islands half back Johnathon Ford.
“Ford was the difference between the teams today; those little kicks into the in goal, he made every one of them a contest.
“Ours weren’t. We kicked out on the full a few times, they didn’t.
“We lost the ball in a crucial moment at the end there.
“It was great to get down there, but we didn’t seal the deal.
“If the ball comes back to Scott in the middle, who knows.
“The try in the first half….I’ll have to look at it, but I just didn’t think he got anywhere near the ball.
“The penalty at the end, what’s Jacob meant to do? Where can he go? I don’t know.
“There were a few things there with the officials.
“Overall, it was a difficult game and a couple of things didn’t go our way, but I’m not too despondent.
“Discipline wise, we were back to giving away those penalties in the second half, but I don’t think we’ve gone backwards.
“That’s not just coach-speak about being positive, I just thought it was a tough game in tough conditions.
“I thought we defended really well, I did. I thought we were outstanding.
“We had our chances to score, James Saltonstall in the first half, if he picks that up, it’s 10-0.
“Our ball retention in that first half was 80-plus per cent, which in those conditions is excellent.
“But offensively we can improve on that.”
As expected, Fax were without the on loan Huddersfield hooker Adam O’Brien, with Marshall confirming the former Siddal junior, who transformed Fax’s attacking game against Sheffield and Rochdale, was expected to be sidelined for around six weeks with the shoulder injury he sustained at Spotland.
“We probably missed Adam, but I thought Ben Kaye was good and Connor did his job when he came on,” said Marshall.
“There was a 10 minute spell in that second half when we went away from our plan, whether that’s down to the dummy halves or the other ball players.
“We made some poor decisions in that period and ultimately it probably cost us the game.
“Adam’s out for four to six weeks, so he won’t be with us this month.
“We were down on numbers today; Chester Butler played, Alex Mammone came back in, it wasn’t our strongest team.
“We could have dipped into dual reg and we chose not to.
“We felt we had enough quality in the squad.”