Marshall: Fax deserved win as they keep pace with leading pack

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Halifax coach Richard Marshall insisted his side deserved their last gasp home win over Swinton in the Championship.

Two tries in the last 10 minutes from James Saltonstall and Steve Tyrer, who then kicked the winning conversion from near the sideline, saw Fax edge past the Lions 18-16 to move into fifth on the league ladder.

That outcome seemed unlikely for long spells as Swinton, with rookie Wigan half back Harry Smith contributing a dangerous kicking game on his final loan appearance, went 16-6 up before finding themselves unable to deal with Fax’s late surge.

“I don’t think we got away with it; the second half we showed a lot of grit and attitude,” said Marshall, whose side have now won three from five ahead of next weekend’s home game against Lee Greenwood’s Dewsbury.

“They scored three tries off kicks, but we didn’t get broken down, and our discipline was a lot better.

“I’ve watched a lot of Swinton, they stick at you, they get in your face and the pitch and the conditions were certainly a leveller today.

“I thought we showed great character, there are no ‘gimmes’ in this competition now, none at all.

“It’s not ideal to be just winning games, but at the same time we’ve just won a game.

“People say if you can still win when you’re playing poorly, then you’re doing something right and we’re probably ticking that box at the moment.

“We’re not ticking the box for being ruthless and for executing the gameplan for 80 minutes.”

Marshall made a series of late changes as the game looked to be drifting away from his team, moving Will Sharp to full back and shunting Quentin Laulu-Togagae out onto the wing and bringing back player-coach Simon Grix for an inspirational second spell.

“I thought Simon when he came on for his second stint was immense,” said Marshall.

“He rolled up his sleeves and got us going forward over the top of them and Ben Kavanagh did a bit of that too.

“Q is a fantastic player and we’ll see the best of him when the grounds firm up.

“We weren’t dealing with their kicks though.

“They kept trying to get in behind us, they kicked early - on play one, play two - they were trying 40/20s, they’re very unpredictable which makes them difficult to defend against.

“It wasn’t about flashy ball playing today, it was about working hard.

“It took us 60 minutes for us to work out that we needed to go through them rather than round them.”

The major pre-match talking point was the omission of half back Ben White and the return of last season’s regular number seven Ben Johnston.

“It was about some familiarity,” said Marshall.

“Ben White’s been good for us, and he’ll be good for us through the season, but I just thought a fit Ben Johnston, running at the opposition, was probably the order of the day.

“We saw that at times and he worked well with Shane Grady on that left edge.

“They kicked better than us, so that was something we probably lacked.

“Ben Johnston and Ben White are different players with different skills and I want them competing against each other and learning off each other.”