Cooper: We still need points to ensure survival

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Old Crossleyans director of rugby Howard Cooper has urged the club’s players to take a stride away from any lingering threat of relegation when Morpeth visit Broomfield tomorrow.

Last weekend’s 30-12 reverse at Northern was Crocs’ fifth straight loss as their stellar start under new boss Neil Spence - which saw them eyeing a promotion play off place before Christmas - continues to evaporate.

They now sit sixth, 15 points clear of second-from-bottom Middlesbrough, prompting Cooper to voice what seemed unthinkable a few weeks ago.

“I think we need to start winning games again if we want to secure our position,” said Cooper.

“We’re not looking over our shoulders at the moment, but we don’t want to be in a situation where that becomes a possibility.

“Losing is a bad habit, and it can be a very difficult one to break.

“Last weekend was very disappointing, it was just a bad day all round.”

Crocs’ bad luck included a bus breakdown that saw them arrive at the ground just before kick off, an injury to Tony Oxley in the warm up and then having captain Ryan Hammond crocked early in the game.

“Tony and Ryan are both doubtful for tomorrow,” said Cooper.

“The good news is that Gareth Ott should be back in the side after missing last weekend due to business commitments.”

Halifax captain Dwaine West is keen to maintain momentum when they host Hessle in Yorkshire Four tomorrow with their probable third-versus-second trip to Stocksbridge looming next weekend.

The Ovenden Park side, who won 31-20 at Hornsea last weekend, look to be back in the promotion hunt, with just four points separating them from next weekend’s opponents.

“We need this week to go according to plan, because that would set up a massive game at Stocksbridge the week after,” said West, who confirmed that Elland rugby league duo Jack and Judd Fairbank would now be available for selection this weekend before returning to the National Conference side at the end of the month.

“It’s certainly not going to be an easy game against Hessle, but we seem to have got our heads back on in training so we’ll be hopeful of getting a good result.

“I think everyone has realised we needed to put some hard work in during the week.”

West said Halifax’s win at Hornsea had been gritty rather than spectacular, certainly set against the backdrop of the 116-point home victory against the same opponents earlier in the season.

“They put up a really good fight,” he said.

“They still had the result at our place in their minds and it wasn’t an easy afternoon for us at all.

“We only really got away with it in the last 15 minutes.”