Fax coach relishing ‘seven cup finals’

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Despite their red-hot form, Halifax know First Utility Super League’s sides will be gunning for them from the off in The Qualifiers.

Richard Marshall’s side, who have won nine straight games in the Championship, face top-flight teams in both of their Super 8s opening games.

They host Widnes Vikings, who finished ninth in Super League, on Sunday August 9 and then head to 10th-placed Hull KR just a week later.

Coach Marshall admitted: “We do have two tough games to start - Widnes at home and Hull KR away.

“They are very difficult matches and those clubs will be looking at Halifax and probably circling them as a win.

“If I was at a Super League team, I’d probably be thinking the same looking at a part-time Championship club like us.

“But we are doing well. We’ve not lost since May and everyone is in a good spot.

“Confidence is important in play-offs games or cup finals - we’ve got that and now have seven cup finals to look forward.

“That’s reward for our players over the last few weeks.

“One of our targets at the start of the season was to make the top-four and qualify and we’ve done that.

“But we don’t want to make up the numbers now.”

Halifax claimed fourth spot in the Championship following that stunning run of results which included seeing them defeat rivals Bradford Bulls on Sunday.

They head to Bradford in the last of their seven Qualifiers rounds on September 27 and, by that point, will hope to be in the hunt for promotion even if others view them as rank outsiders.

Marshall added: “We want to go enjoy ourselves and there is a potential for this club to get back into Super League now.

“It looks like you might need four wins to get up or, depending on results, three might be enough (for the Million Pound Game).

“We know the opposition is far higher than what we’ve played this year but against those (top) Championship teams we’ve played we haven’t rolled over once and I don’t want us to do that.

“I want us to be competitive. We’re in good form, confident and we can be a dangerous team.

“Maybe clubs need to look at our defensive record as well; we have the second best defensive record in the competition which is good.

“We like to defend tough. I hope we sustain that. I would hate to get beat but really hate to get beat and turned over.

“I don’t think we will. It’s not in our make-up.”

Halifax train three nights per week plus a “top-up” session for those players who can finish work early on Thursdays.

They are unlikely to be able to increase that schedule in the coming weeks but Marshall did say: “I might add another top-up session. We’ve a couple of teachers who will be off over the summer so they could maybe do that.

“But I don’t want to change too much; we’ve had a good time this year with what we’ve done and it’s worked.

“Our scrutiny of opposition needs to intensify, though. We’re going to play Widnes first up and Kevin Brown who is a world-class player in my opinion.

“We need to look at what other teams do. We’re pretty well-versed now in the Championship but we need to look at Super League teams in a bit more depth”

Reassuringly, though, ‘Fax have almost a full clean bill of health.

“We’ve got Luke Ambler back plus Ross Divorty and Ben Kaye so Miles Greenwood is our only long-term absentee; we might have our strongest team of the season out for Widnes in that first game.”