Marshall wants Fax to be sharper with the ball

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Halifax boss Richard Marshall wants his side to sharpen up their last-play options ahead of Sunday’s date with Championship leaders Batley at Mount Pleasant (3.0).

The former Warrington assistant coach said that was the main lesson to emerge from this week’s analysis of his side’s largely encouraging 18-6 defeat by Leigh last weekend.

“We looked at how and where we finished our sets off, and we looked at how Leigh finished their sets,” said Marshall.

“Whether that’s with a kick or an attacking play, it’s something we needed to do better last weekend and we need to do it better on Sunday as well.

“That was probably the major difference between the sides; if we had kicked the ball as well as they did in the first half we’d have been a lot closer to them.

“The actual execution of the kick is in the half back’s job description, but it’s not as simple as that.

“There are other players involved in setting up that play and it’s something we’ve worked on in preparation.

“The table says Batley are the best team in our competition at the moment and we’re excited by the challenge of going there and trying to get a result.”

With that in mind, Marshall has the option of juggling his half back combination again, with Ben Johnston challenging Australian Matt Place and skipper Scott Murrell for a place in the starting side.

“We’re still deliberating that one,” said Marshall.

“Ben has a bit of a hand injury, but I think he’ll make himself available for selection.

“I won’t make changes for the sake of making changes, but I think there are a few players in the side not playing as well as they would like to play.”

Selection decisions elsewhere are likely to focus on the wing, where the former Batley player Alex Brown is under pressure from Tommy Saxton and Gareth Potts after a difficult afternoon facing Leigh’s two-try flyer Liam Kay, and up front, where loan signing Jacob Fairbank is piling on the pressure.

“It was probably an indifferent game for Alex,” said Marshall.

“Leigh targeted him and wing is a difficult position where you can end up being very exposed, but he played well at Whitehaven the week before.

“We’ve got Tommy and Gareth, who are out and out wingers, so we’ll look at that one as well.

“Jacob was disappointed not to play last weekend but no one has a God given right to be in the team.

“He’s desperate to play, but I’ve got 24 other players who want to play too.

“You can’t just rock up and walk in to the side and I think he realises that, but he’ll certainly be in contention for Sunday’s game.”