Marshall: Fax looked out of it until QLT magic

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Halifax coach Richard Marshall admitted he thought his side had let a crucial opportunity in the race for a top four Championship finish slip from their grasp as the clock ticked down at Bloomfield Road on Saturday night.

Fax trailed arch rivals Featherstone 18-14 with five minutes to go, having squandered a 14-0 interval lead, and had centre Steve Tyrer in the sin bin as the momentum of the contest seemed to have tipped decisively in Rovers’ favour.

But a moment of magic from gamebreaking full back Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e carved a try out of nothing for half back Ben Johnston, before a last minute touchdown from captain Scott Murrell - who confirmed on Sunday he had signed a deal for 2019 - pulled the game out of the fire.

“We were gone then, when Steve went off,” admitted Marshall, whose side finished the weekend in fifth, but will move to third - a point shy of Toulouse - if they win their game in hand at Batley next Sunday (3.0).

“As a coach, you’re looking around at the bench thinking ‘How can I change things?’.

“But we came out the other side with a couple of late tries.

“It was an important game; it was a tough game and as a rugby league spectacle I thought it had everything.

“Obviously as a coach it wasn’t great; I’d have like to have gone in at half time with a bit more of a lead and taken more of our opportunities.

“It’s never like that when you’re coaching Halifax; we capitulated in the second half but to come back from that, with a player down, was magnificent.

“It’s probably one of our best performances of the last 12 months in some respects.

“If you look at the budgets and rosters of the other teams, we probably shouldn’t be in the fight for the top four.

“But these players will finish where their workrate takes them.

“Coaches question players’ attitudes sometimes, but in pre-season we talked about being a gritty, honest team where players will do anything for the person stood next to them; we did that today.

“If we continue to do that, we’ll win more than we lose over the rest of the season.”

While QLT’s attacking flair - which has transformed Fax’s potential over the last five weeks - it was Murrell’s tactical nous that had laid the foundations of their early lead.

“Scott’s been fantastic and a lot of the credit has to go to him and Simon Grix this week,” said Marshall, who limped into the press conference on crutches after undergoing knee surgery last Tuesday.

“They’ve been helping out with the coaching and more so now as I’m off my feet at the moment with my knee.

“The players came up with a fantastic plan this week.

“Q has certainly improved our attack and he sparked the revival, dancing across the field and finding a hole in their defence.

“Will Sharp was magnificent again. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he loves playing for Halifax.

“We’ve moved him away from the position he likes, but you wouldn’t know it.”

Fax also welcome back Cook Islands forward Adam Tangata, although after eight months on the sidelines with a foot injury their star front rower was predictably rusty.

“It was a tough game for Adam and he had a mixed afternoon, but he needed that to improve,” said Marshall.

“I’d like to have got him through the door last week against Dewsbury, but it wasn’t possible.”