Handforth: Fax rode their luck to make final

Paul Handforth
Paul Handforth
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Halifax’s Paul Handforth has said the Shay outfit were “lucky” to still be in contention for a place in the Northern Rail Cup final after their first-half nightmare at Sheffield on Friday night.

Fax were off the pace in the opening 40 minutes at the Don Valley Stadium, allowing their hosts to open up an 18-0 lead that would have been more substantial if centre Menzie Yere had finished two gilt-edged chances.

The visitors cut the deficit to 18-4 at the break with a Ryan Fieldhouse touchdown - set up by Handforth - before second half tries from Rob Worrincy, Anthony Thackeray and Wayne Reittie, all converted by the impeccable Steve Tyrer, set up a 24-22 win and a place in the Bloomfield Road decider at the end of this month.

“We were lucky to still be in it at half time and we knew that,” said Handforth.

“If Sheffield had been a bit more clinical and turned the screw a bit more, which they should have done with the good ball they had, then I think it would have been a matter of playing for pride in that second 40.

“But we knew we couldn’t have played any worse, so we went in, had a chat and came out and set the tone for the half in the first set of six.

“If you don’t build pressure and hold the ball, you are not going to get anywhere in this game, whether you are playing Wigan or an amateur side.

“We knocked some sets out, got to the kicks and pushed up with each other, doing the little things off the ball that we didn’t do in the first half.”

League leaders Featherstone - crushing 24-4 winners at the Shay last week - await in the final, and Handforth remains realistic about what Fax need to do if they want to improve on last season’s result, when they were beaten on the final play of the game by Leigh.

“We need to improve, massively,” said the former Rovers half back.

“You saw last week that we weren’t at the races.

“If you give Featherstone an inch, they will take a mile: they are clinical and they don’t let you off.

“We have seen that first hand and we know what we need to do.”