WEST Bowling head coach John Williams believes the recent red card drama involving star players Daniel Halmshaw and Liam Coe could have been dealt with differently.

The duo were both given their marching orders, when the Bradford side travelled to Hammersmith Hill Hoists on January 27 in the second round of the Challenge Cup.

West Bowling lost the tie 32-10 but the fixture was marred by incidents involving both players, with Halmshaw and Coe being seen to have thrown punches at opposition players.

A Match Review Panel meeting was held on February 1, and the two West Bowling men pleaded guilty.

Halmshaw has been handed a six-match ban while Coe has received a ban of three matches.

Head coach, Williams commented: “We were hoping for the bans to be less, but I think that it’s the way things are going these days; they’re handing out big bans for sending offs.

“I did think it was a bit harsh to give them red cards in the first place, especially Dan’s because of how early it was in the game. I feel like it could have been given as a yellow, as his sending off spoiled the contest a little bit.”

He added: “Right from the start it was an aggressive game and I think the referee lost a bit of control after giving the sending off so early. Two yellows would have been a fair punishment at the time, but there’s nothing we can do to change the outcome of the incidents.”

Halmshaw, hooker, and Coe, half-back, form an integral part of Williams’ and West Bowling’s plans this season, so to have the pair absent comes as a massive blow to the club.

Williams admitted: “Losing these two is a massive lost for us.  Losing a hooker or a half-back out of anybody’s team is a massive loss, but when they’re as good as these two are, then you’re more likely to feel it.

“They’re two of our better players and they’re two of our leaders as well. Fortunately, we have some strong replacements to come in from the reserves and u18’s to soften the blow for the time being.

“We are able to look into the new dual-reg market for professional players, which is something that we might look to do in the future, but for now we want to give players who are in the setup already the chance to show what they can do.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: West Bowling will have to do without two of their key men for the start of the seasonWest Bowling will have to do without two of their key men for the start of the season (Image: John Ashton)

Despite both players receiving hefty bans, West Bowling will be grateful that friendly fixtures are included in the ticking-off process, meaning the pairs’ bans will be lighter when competitive action comes around again on March 2.

Williams said: “Thankfully the bans factor in pre-season friendlies, which is a positive for us. We take on Bradford Bulls Reserves on Friday (tonight) and we also play Stanley Rangers next Friday before the season starts.

“It means that Liam will only have one game left of his ban, but Dan will still have to sit out of four competitive fixtures, which isn’t great for us.”

West Bowling have two more fixtures against Bulls’ Reserves and Stanley Rangers before they kick off their National Conference League (Premier Division) campaign on March 2 at home to York Acon.

Reflecting on pre-season, Williams said: “It’s been a very positive one, barring the red cards at Hammersmith.

“The group are gelling really well, and they’ve been able to build even more confidence after such a strong season last time out.

“It might take a bit longer for the team to hit their top gear, but we have full belief that this group can compete very well in the Premier Division this season.”