Fev showdown is one to savour, says Fax boss

After tackling Batley last week, Fax take on Featherstone
After tackling Batley last week, Fax take on Featherstone

Boss Richard Marshall is predicting a contest to get the fans “salivating” when his Halifax side clash with potential top four rivals Featherstone at the Shay on Sunday (3.0).

The two sides will start the weekend on level pegging with two wins from the competition’s first three rounds; Rovers losing their unbeaten tag last weekend with a thumping 40-point home loss to Bradford while Fax were grinding out a 6-2 success at Batley.

“Over the last few years, this has been one of the biggest games in the Championship and I don’t think this one will be any different; it’s just one of those games that gets supporters salivating,” said Marshall.

“For me, we’re at home and I always want to win at home, regardless of the opposition.

“We played at home against the other week and lost, albeit having played pretty well.

“We took a good following to Batley at the weekend and I think they’ve seen a little bit more of what we’re about this year.

“I think we’d like to show the people who come to our home games a bit more now and put on a good show on Sunday.

“The intensity will go up a notch this week; Featherstone are a team with some really good individuals and I think there are going to be some great battles all over the field.”

Marshall picked out the clash of the front rows - where his former Warrington charges Paul Wood and Garreth Carvell could pack down either side of the perennially dangerous hooker Andy Ellis - and the stand off showdown between Fax skipper Scott Murrell and Rovers’ Paul Sykes, as particularly juicy.

“Those are Super League-quality players we’re talking about,” said Marshall, who did not rule out making changes to the side that won at Mount Pleasant, although he reported no major injury concerns.

“I was really pleased with Scott in the second half on Sunday and Sykes is a really good player. “That will be a good contest between those two.

“Our front rowers and middle unit players have been good for us so far and they’ll be tested again on Sunday.”

Tactically, the coach preached the need for his side to tread the fine line between playing the attacking rugby he wants to see and taking too many risks; risks that led to a rash of first half handling errors at Batley.

“We want to play, we want to push the pass and we’re prepared to defend our errors if we make them,” said Marshall.

“But we need to respect the opposition and each other a little bit more than we did at times last weekend and not put ourselves under that much pressure, because we won’t always get away with it.

“I think when you make two or three mistakes in succession, you need to make sure you play a different way until you get back in the arm wrestle.”