Halifax coach Richard Marshall warned his players they need to learn the lessons of their opening day defeat at Featherstone if they want to make an impact on an “unforgiving” Championship.
Fax went down 20-4 at Post Office Road, with Rovers half back Martin Ridyard’s final quarter try finally tipping a hard fought contest on a glue pot playing surface in Rovers’ favour.
Marshall praised his side’s determination, but was left with plenty to ponder, notably the sluggish start which saw Featherstone dominate the opening quarter, a hefty penalty count deficit and a distinct lack of creativity with the ball.
“I’m not too despondent because we needed that game and it’s round one, but the Championship is an unforgiving competition and we need to learn and learn quickly,” said Marshall, whose side are back in action against Sheffield at the Shay next Sunday (3.0).
“It wasn’t a lack of effort or attitude, it was about smarts and discipline.
“This 17 hasn’t played together as a group before today so we’ll be a lot better for that game; I’m looking forward to next weekend already.
“We were always in with a shout until that last 20 minutes.
“It was a tough pitch to play on and a good kicking game and a strong chase was important; Featherstone did a really good job on us in that regard in the first half and we did in the second half.
“But we just couldn’t capitalise on the field position at crucial times.
“We lost Ben Johnston after 20 minutes and that undid some of the preparation we’d done during the week.
“Ben takes some of the pressure off Scott and we’ve done a lot of work with him on his overall skills, so to lose him was disappointing.
“A lot of the penalties came down to the ruck speed and not being able to control that.
“We did it at certain times, but not consistently over the 80 minutes.
“Our discipline has to improve overall; with the ball as well.
“We need to be more patient and there is a lot to work on.
“There were things I was very pleased with, but overall we need to do it for longer and be more consistent in our approach.”
Fax handed dual-registration debuts to Castleford duo Jy Hitchcox and Alex Foster, who both played for the Tigers in last autumn’s Grand Final, with their Wheldon Road teammates Brandon Douglas and Will Maher both playing the first games of their season-long loan deals.
But it was last season’s outstanding performer, full back Will Sharp, who caught Marshall’s eye, running hard with the ball and producing at least two try saving tackles as Rovers pounded Fax’s goalline.
“I thought Jy and Alex contributed well,” said Marshall.
“It’s difficult to come in after two sessions - Alex was warming up with Cas at Saints on Friday night - but they both showed some nice touches.
“I thought Will Sharp was outstanding though; he saved a couple of certain tries.
“He’s picked up where he left off last season.”