Halifax’s Richard Marshall saw arguably his side’s best chance of a Qualifiers win slip from their grasp as Krisnan Inu’s hat trick of tries steered Widnes to a 26-12 victory at the Halton Stadium.
Fax, who host Leeds at the Shay next weekend, matched the Vikings - who hadn’t won a league fixture since March - for significant periods, but paid the price for their ongoing issues in attack and some early errors that gave their hosts a 10-0 start.
Marshall’s side were very much in the game at the break, when they trailed 10-6, and deep in the second half, when it was 16-6, before Francis Cummins’ team edged home.
“It was an opportunity; we prepared to win and had a good week in practice,” said Marshall.
“It was fractions between the sides at times, errors at key moments.
“Widnes were the better side on the day and they deserved it, but there wasn’t too much in it.
“At times in that first half, we had enough possession to do more, but not in the second.
“We did too much defending and it breaks teams at this level.
“I thought we were good coming out of yardage, fast and direct, and we were physical defensively.
“But we lacked that moment, that spark, that game changer.
“It’s tough at this time of year; we had Scott Murrell out there with an injured hand.
“We always have the effort and the attitude to work hard, but we lacked some smarts at times.
“We struggled to hold Inu, he was strong, and Mellor at the back.
“We’ve done some things today that we’d get away with in the Championship, but you don’t against these teams.
“They were in a rut and it’s difficult to get out of that, but we helped them along the way, giving them a leg up in that first half.
“We made a decision to pass the ball under the posts, made a couple of poor defensive reads, and got punished.”
Fax’s teamsheet lacked the expected return of the influential Simon Grix, who is still suffering the after effects of the concussion that forced him from the field against Salford two weeks ago.
On loan Hull KR full back Kieren Moss also missed out, with Marshall sticking with the in form Will Sharp, while young back rower Connor Davies made his first senior start at loose forward.
“We lost Simon so we had to reshuffle; we’d planned on using Adam Tangata in the back row and had to use him in the middle instead,” said Marshall.
“Simon has failed his head test a couple of times and it was the doctor’s call.
“We could perhaps have pushed it, but player welfare is a priority and there’s no point having those young players like Connor if you’re not going to give them opportunities.
“With Kieren, we decided that Will was outstanding last week so we opted to use him and James Woodburn-Hall and allow them to interchange between those wing and full back positions.
“It worked well, but overall we’ve got a couple of players below where they should be and we can’t afford that.
“I thought Brandon Moore was really good for us though, outstanding; really tough and direct.”