The Liam Farrell column: ‘We can’t keep relying on second-half form’

Wigan marched to another victory at Widnes
Wigan marched to another victory at Widnes

There have been times this year when our better second-half performance has been down to reaping the rewards of our efforts in the first-half.

Last Friday wasn’t one of those occasions.

I know it was another game in which we came from behind, but we were a bit sloppy against Widnes for spells of the opening half.

There were occasions when we’d not only make an error, but compound it with a couple of penalties, and we need to scrub those from our performances.

It’s encouraging that we can score so many points in the second-half of matches, but we can’t keep relying on that because we will come up against a side playing well and we won’t be able to claw it back.

We’re still chasing that level of consistency though, bigger picture, we’re happy to be chalking off the wins, claiming the points and keeping the pressure on St Helens at the top of the table.

Salford visit tomorrow – I miss out again, with a rolled ankle – and we’re braced for a backlash from them.

They’ve had a good season so far, but we didn’t see the best of them in the 60-10 loss at St Helens and when that happens, you normally see a reaction from it.

They have been travelling well and will have ambitions of securing a place in the top-eight at the end of the regular season. It’s a big game for both sides.

My brother, Connor, is playing for Featherstone so I’ve become a bit of a Rovers fan this year!

The standard in the Championship, especially among clubs at the top, is very good.

Toronto are leading the way, with Fev just behind, Toulouse and London are also doing well and Leigh have picked up some good form in recent weeks.

The fact Toronto have been able to recruit Matty Russell – when they already have so many ex-NRL and Super League players – underlines their ambitions.

It promises to make the Qualifiers – or the Middle-8s – exciting. But for the bottom four of Super League involved, it’ll be a nervous time.

I’ve not gone into the details of the Zak Hardaker case, but I’ve obviously seen he has been banned for 14-months.

There are no winners, here.

You look at what Castleford paid for Zak, and now they’ve lost out.

Super League has lost out – he is one of the competition’s best players, and he got my vote for the Man of Steel last year. And, of course, Zak has lost out, not only by being suspended from playing the game he loves, but financially, too.

Rugby league players aren’t like footballers – they’ve still got bills and mortgages to pay.

With more and more players getting caught and banned, I can see why people say more needs to be done. But as players, we are educated. Players from juniors to seniors are given seminars about what is acceptable and what’s not, and I’m sure it’s the same at other clubs.

This ban means Zak will be available to play next year, and I hope in the meantime he gets support.

And I hope other players learn from what he has been through and don’t take the same risk.