Gannon: Final success will help me finish on a high

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Halifax’s veteran forward Jim Gannon insists he will quit the game a happy man after ending his Northern Rail Cup horror story with victory over Featherstone last weekend.

The 35 year old Australian, who was only handed a pay-as-you-play deal at Christmas as boss Karl Harrison looked for cover for long-term injury victims Makali Aizue and Sam Barlow, had lost in the final seconds of the last two Bloomfield Road deciders, missing out for Fax against Leigh last year and with Widnes versus Harrison’s Batley in 2010.

Gannon had already confirmed he will retire in the autumn, and while the dream of a Grand Final win remains high on his agenda, Sunday’s 21-12 triumph has already provided a suitable swansong for the player who first arrived at the Shay as a rookie in 1999.

“Winning finals is what it’s all about, it’s what you play for,” said Gannon, who had to endure the final 10 minutes from the bench after being replaced by Sam Barlow.

“The last two years have been tough losses to take, but we knew that we had a plan that would get us the result if we stuck to it.

“We defended our line really well, nullified their threats and had enough class with the ball to get the points on the board at the other end.

“It’s hard when you’ve done your shift and you’re sat on the bench at the end, watching.

“But the boys defended with real desperation and that’s what got us home.

“I can retire happy now, I’ve had a great 15 years.

“We’ve got two more trophies to try and win and while we need a bit of help with the league leaders there is still a lot of footy left to be played.

“We want to make sure we do the double now.”

Gannon played a key role in Harrison’s big game strategy, starting the game alongside fellow props Luke Ambler and Sean Hesketh and utility forward Craig Ashall as Fax took Rovers on down the middle.

“Karl decided to mix it up a bit, putting Sean Penkywicz on the bench and starting Ashy at hooker,” said Gannon.

“We knew they were going to try and steamroller us down the middle so we kept Penky out of there early on.

“It’s not that he’s a poor defender, but it takes the effectiveness out of his game if he’s having to make those tackles.

“We did our job early on and carried it on from there.

“Winning that speed of the ruck is something we have struggled with.

“We felt we had a point to prove in the middle; finals are always about six-versus-six.

“That’s where everything comes from and after that it’s down to how much class you have with the ball.”