Halifax coach Richard Marshall conceded he was likely to accrue “a few more grey hairs” over the next week after his side’s push for a place in the Super 8s Qualifiers took another series of unexpected twists.
Fax, unable to beat their top four rivals for much of this season, have now knocked off two in two games, backing up their 16-8 win in Toulouse with a 28-8 thumping of Featherstone at Post Office Road on Sunday.
That win, sealed by spectacular second half tries from wingers Rob Worrincy and Ben Heaton, would have been enough to seal fourth place if Toulouse hadn’t come up with an upset of their own, winning 31-30 at leaders Hull KR.
If the French side can beat Featherstone in France in their final league game next Saturday night, Fax will need to take at least a point off KR at the Shay the following day to make the top four.
“We played well and we played desperate,” said Marshall.
“We can concentrate on what we need to do next week now.
“I think our levels went up again today, from last week which was another massive game, and if we can go up another notch next week and beat a team that spends far, far more than we do that would be really satisfying.
“It’s fantastic for the competition that it’s going down to that last game.
“As a coach, I’ve got a few more grey hairs and I’ll probably have a few more by this time next week, but that’s part and parcel of the job.
“I love working with this group of players, they know they’re a good side and they’ve got some momentum behind them now.
“I thought the camaraderie and the team ethic was brilliant again and that’s great to see.
“We had each others’ backs today, the defence was on song for most of the 80 minutes; we knew it was a game we needed to win and we made sure we did that.
“We can’t influence anyone else’s performances or results, we can only control our own.”
With key players in form - experienced pair Simon Grix and Scott Murrell were both dominant against Featherstone, with young hooker Brandon Moore particularly dangerous around the ruck - arguably the biggest threat to Fax’s success is a lack of numbers.
With several key stars out injured, and no Salford players available on dual registration this weekend, Marshall was forced to deploy Australian prop Mitch Cahalane as an emergency back rower, with back rower Ed Barber covering at centre and Heaton, usually a centre, on the flank.
“We’re running low on troops,” said Marshall.
“We’ve probably got some players out there who shouldn’t be playing, but they are and that’s the spirit we’ve got at the club.
“We had big Mitch out there on the edge and he did well for us.
“We took Simon off as a precaution and Scott needed to come off with his ankle, but I’m sure they’ll both put their hands up for next weekend.
“Brandon Douglas has got a shoulder injury, Michael Sio and Shane Grady both have rib issues.
“But we’ll patch them up and go again next weekend.”