Marshall: Youngsters will benefit from Boxing Day experience

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Halifax coach Richard Marshall talked up the value of experience for the club’s young players after watching them finish well beaten in a pre-season fixture at Bradford.

Fax, with nine players on debut and only five currently considered front line contenders for the opening league fixture against Featherstone in February, lost 22-6 to the League 1 Bulls, playing their first fixture under new coach John Kear.

“It was never about the result, it was about giving players opportunity,” said Marshall, who saw his side take a 6-0 lead through full back James Woodburn-Hall.

“It was a young side anyway and with the more experienced players off the field for most of the second half it was even younger than that.

“I think they’ve all found out something about themselves, their peers and Halifax RLFC, because a lot of them have never played for the club before at this level.

“Our attacking shape was good in that first 10 minutes, we broke them down a couple of times and got the try.

“Our goalline defence was very strong at times, which was a positive, but we couldn’t sustain field position, our kicking game wasn’t good enough and we couldn’t control the ruck speed.

“The experience is good for them, but they’ve found today their discipline needs to be better than that.

“You can practice plays and wrestle and technique as much as you want, but you only find out whether your discipline is good enough when there’s a referee on the field.

“There were 13 or 14 first team players not involved, but you need to look at players to see whether they can handle the pace of a Championship or League 1 game.”

The lack of a solid long kicking game in open play is an issue Fax have encountered at Championship level before, with veteran captain Scott Murrell - absent at Odsal - their only reliable option.

Neither Ben Johnston or teenager Morgan Punchard - who still conjured a couple of moments of magic in open play - really addressed the problem successfully, although trialist Adam Brook, a former Bulls player, did improve things after being introduced at half time.

“Adam Brook did some good things, but we didn’t build enough pressure for any of the half backs to control the game,” said Marshall.

“None of the three half backs were consistent, which is what you need in that position.

“Between Adam, Ben and Morgan, there were some decent spells and good touches, but none of them did it consistently enough.

“We need to go away and look at that again.

“Adam has been at Bradford, he’s been at Keighley and he’s looking for an opportunity with his hometown club.

“Overall, I thought Jordan Symes’ contribution was good.

“He put his hand up for some carries early on, as did Connor Davies, and Sion Jones was a handful for their defence.”

Marshall’s players will now have a week off before continuing their Championship build up at Super League outfit Wakefield on Sunday, January 7 (3.0).