With a slate of pre-season games wetting the appetite for rugby league across the weekend it’s time to assess the fallout of those games and Simon Grix, Head Coach of Halifax Panthers, is clearly setting high standards for his side heading into 2023.
Fax finished third in the Championship in 2022 and their first pre-season hit-out came against a very experienced, and close to full-strength, Wakefield Trinity in Reece Lyne’s testimonial match.
As such the game served as a spectacle for Trinity fans in the first-half at least as they ran out to an 18-0 lead with Lyne himself bagging a try.
The second-half saw Super League’s youngest coach, Mark Applegarth, ring the changes and that allowed the Panthers to actually win the second-half 16-10 for a final score line of 28-16.
Considering the quality on show for Trinity it would seem a very solid result but head coach Grix, formerly a player predominantly at Warrington Wolves, took plenty to work on from the game.
“We got what we needed, some focus points for the next couple of weeks. If I were to rate us out of ten, four or five I think. We dipped our toe in against what was quite possibly Wakefield’s starting team for their round one in Super League.
“Obviously they’re full time and a big set of lads so we dipped our toe in. We didn’t give ourselves an opportunity and didn’t really deliver on what we’d been practising which is a little bit disappointing.”
The avoidance of defeat by a wider margin than just two tries on the face of things looks a very good result, especially considering that it seemed to be a Wakefield side at full strength barring Corey hall, as Grix alluded to.
It wasn’t all negative though with Grix continuing in his interview, that was shared by the Panthers on their social media, and referencing the learning aspects from having faced Super League opposition.
— Halifax Panthers 🐾 (@HalifaxPanthers) January 15, 2023
“I thought we grew into the game, the second-half we started to play our way a little bit but we just didn’t give ourselves enough opportunity. We probably pushed the pass a little bit out of frustration which was a credit to Wakefield.
“Every individual got a hit out and I thought there was some bright spots in there as well.”
The most evident bright spots would be that two debutants managed a try including hooker Tom Inman and Italy international Jake Maizen.
Maizen also linked up with fellow winger, Lachlan Walmsley, for the Australian to land his first try of 2023 following a league-leading 28 tries in the Championship in 2022.
So whilst Grix may spot certain things to work on the ability to remain close to a Trinity side of such quality is testament to the standards he looks set to hold Fax to for 2023 as they aim for Super League promotion.