Handforth desperate not to miss the fight for third

Paul Handforth

Paul Handforth

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Halifax vice captain Paul Handforth was always determined to play in Sunday’s pivotal Co-operative Championship victory over Batley.

Handforth was ruled out by boss Karl Harrison in midweek after spending three days in hospital on a drip with severe tonsilitis.

But the half back recovered sufficiently to take his place on the bench and was an influential presence as Fax roared back from 20-6 down to snatch a 26-20 win with a late Luke Ambler try.

“It certainly wasn’t ideal preparation, that’s for sure,” said Handforth, who captained the Bulldogs under Harrison last season.

“We’d had the week before off and I ended up pretty poorly, and spent Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in hospital on a drip.

“After that, I only trained on Friday and I was still pretty bad then; I probably still wasn’t 100 per cent on Sunday.

“But it was a big game, we needed to win to make sure of home advantage in the play offs and I didn’t want to miss out.

“In my head, I was always going to play, but the final call went down to Karl and fortunately he gave me the okay to get out there.

“It was satisfying to win, although we made it hard for ourselves.

“Batley have a massive forward pack, but once our forwards started to match them, we gradually got on top with a good kicking game.

“If we’re on top, we’re always going to score tries.”

Fax’s win secured them third place on the league ladder, setting up a home game against Keighley in the play offs on Thursday night.

“We’ve had a couple of tough games against Keighley, so we need to be ready for them,” said Handforth.

“We’re four wins away from winning the competition now, so that’s the target.

“We don’t want to be watching the Grand Final from the beach.”