Fax’s task is tough: Paul

Pipped at the post: Stephen Bannister on the attack against Batley, but it was the Bulldogs who took the points
Pipped at the post: Stephen Bannister on the attack against Batley, but it was the Bulldogs who took the points

HALIFAX back rower Paul Smith has conceded the club now face a “cup final every week” if they want to make the Co-operative Championship play offs.

Sunday’s 36-28 loss to second-placed Batley has left Fax six points behind sixth-placed Barrow with only eight league fixtures remaining to bridge the gap.

And Smith has underlined the task facing Matt Calland’s Northern Rail Cup finalists ahead of next Sunday’s date at Dewsbury.

“We have a bit of a cup final every week now to try and make the play offs,” said the veteran forward, making it clear that Fax do not need to wait until Blackpool on July 17 to get a taste of make-or-break rugby league.

“If we start thinking about the Northern Rail now then we are going to be way off in the league.

“We have two league games before then and we need to concentrate on winning those if we want to make the play offs.

“We might end up needing to win every game, because the teams at the top are not losing.

“Dewsbury is always a difficult game, I have never had an easy afternoon there no matter where they have been in the table.

“It’s a small pitch, they are always very physical and they will see yesterday’s result and be spurred on by that.”

Smith also candidly admitted Fax had finished Sunday’s contest against the Bulldogs as second best, with a late Johnny Campbell try, converted from the sideline by Paul Handforth, overhauling the home side in the final five minutes.

“I thought we did really well to get back into the game, but the best team probably won,” said Smith.

“They seemed to have more enthusiasm than us, which was a slight worry, and they finished the stronger so they deserved it.

“We got into a lot of good positions, but didn’t come up with the right plays.

“The effort was there, definitely, and it’s something to work on now before Sunday.”

Halifax’s under 23s continue their recent hectic schedule when they go to Castleford for the fourth round of the Rugby Football League’s summer nines tournament.

Martin Gonzalez’s young side, who only went down 30-24 to unbeaten Widnes in 13-a-side action at the weekend, have yet to taste victory in the previous three rounds of the nines competition.