Halifax look for more than victory

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THIS is one of those games that can be filed under the heading of ‘thankless tasks’.

Halifax have been handed Northern Rail Cup trips to the Skolars’ draughty north London home twice before since they dropped into the lower leagues in 2004.

On both occasions, they have romped to big wins without really raising a sweat, while one of the larger contingent of travelling supporters outside Super League have stuffed a few extra quid into the coffers of the Championship One strugglers.

And that, in all likelihood, is what will happen again at White Hart Lane tomorrow afternoon, despite the presence of the odd proven Championship performer - winger Ade Adebisi and half back Neil Thorman, for example - in the home ranks.

Fax coach Karl Harrison isn’t taking the Londoners lightly though.

The former Great Britain prop may have tinkered slightly with his line up, talking about resting vice captain Paul Handforth, but otherwise he will field a full strength line up.

That reflects a few things.

First, how important the Northern Rail Cup - which Harrison won with Batley in 2010, with Fax reaching last season’s final under Matt Calland and Brian Noble - is to the club.

Fax are virtually home and hosed in terms of quarter final qualification, but there is a scenario where a defeat tomorrow, coupled with the wrong results elsewhere, could see them tipped out of the top four places in Pool A.

That scenario is more mathematical theory than practical possibility, but Harrison is rightly not about to start taking chances.

He expects his side to go out and hit the Skolars hard, just as they did at Dewsbury and on home soil against Featherstone last week.

What he doesn’t want is something similar to Fax’s performance against Rochdale a fortnight ago, where they generally lacked intensity in attack and defence and only rarely looked like clicking into top gear.

There is more to this game than the NRC though.

The quality of last week’s performance against Featherstone, even in defeat, has given Fax some real momentum.

And with the start of the Co-operative Championship season against Hunslet just a week away, it is vital they maintain it.

This is a new team, that Harrison rightly expects to get better as the year goes on.

But that improvement will only come if his players start to put high-class displays back-to-back, building the kind of belief and confidence that separates title contenders from also-rans.

The last thing Fax want is to run out against the Hawks next Sunday on the back of a patchy effort in London.

If Harrison gets a win tomorrow, and a clean bill of health as far as injuries are concerned, he will have cause for modest satisfaction.

But it will take a slick, professional performance to make him genuinely happy ahead of that league opener.

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