Marshall urges Fax to be positive ahead of Shield campaign

Ed Barber scored two tries
Ed Barber scored two tries

Halifax coach Richard Marshall has warned his players they need to “wipe the slate clean” before the start of the Championship Shield in a fortnight’s time.

Marshall watched his side slip to a scrappy 41-22 home loss to London at the Shay on Sunday, finally confirming their failure to repeat last year’s top four league finish.

A Fax side that looked mentally drained after last weekend’s crucial reverse against Featherstone trailed 22-6 early in the second half, but levelled at 22-22 after two inspirational scores from makeshift centre Ed Barber before the Broncos sneaked clear again in the closing stages.

“When things went against us, we weren’t strong enough to deal with that,” admitted Marshall, who pointed to the decision to rule out what looked like a cast-iron try for winger Will Sharp when the scores were level as crucial to the final outcome.

“We gave ourselves too much to do, but the try the touch judge ruled out was a certain score and that changes the game again.

“We need to come to terms with the reality of where we’re at now and what we’ve done over the last three games.

“We need to wipe the slate clean and not hold on to any negative thoughts.

“If we do, it is going to be a long few months.

“We will do that, freshen up and then coming back firing for the Championship Shield.

“We can reassess and re-evaluate where we are as a team, what we want to be doing and how we want to be perceived.

“Do we want to be also-rans or do we want to finish the season on a high?

“There are a lot of games to go, a long way to go.

“We had a 15 minute period in the second period where we were the team that took the game on and did the things we talked about in the week.

“But we were too scrappy in that first half and I wasn’t too happy with those tries down the middle.

“To concede on those vital plays wasn’t great.”

The fixtures for the Shield will be announced on Wednesday, with Fax having four away games and three at home.

With league points carried forward and sixth-placed Fax already 11 points clear of seventh-placed Sheffield, Marshall’s side already looked virtually assured of a semi final spot.

The semi finals and final will then be held at the home of the highest ranked club.

Fax will head into the competition with the Salford back rower Matt Sarsfield, ruled out on Sunday with a hand injury, in their ranks after the Red Devils extended his week-by-week loan deal to the end of the year following their recruitment of NRL pair Luke Burgess and Feleti Mateo.

“Matt will be with us now,” said Marshall, who was waiting for assessments on injured pair James Saltonstall (shoulder ) and Jacob Fairbank (knee).

“Salford were waiting on signing two players on Friday and they did that, so we will have Matt for the rest of the year.

“We were running with 15 players again in that second half, which didn’t help.

“Jacob will have to have a scan, but it seems to be relatively alright at the moment, touch wood.

“Saltonstall’s got a shoulder/chest problem and again we’ll have to wait and see on that one.

“Ed Barber had a good game and Adam Tangata ran his blood to water for us out there.”