Harrison: Handforth’s substitution due to injury

Ryan Fieldhouse

Ryan Fieldhouse

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Halifax coach Karl Harrison has confirmed his decision to replace hooker Paul Handforth at half time in the 34-16 win at Doncaster on Easter Monday was injury-related.

With Handforth scheming at the play the ball, Fax stormed 34-0 up in the opening 40 minutes at the Keepmoat Stadium.

But with the veteran playmaker in the dugout, the visitors toiled after the interval, eventually ‘losing’ the half 16-0 to a rejuvenated Dons outfit.

Victory was never in doubt though, as Fax took advantage of Sheffield’s defeat at Whitehaven to stretch their lead at the top of the Championship to five points.

“I thought we were really good the first half,” enthused Harrison, who saw his side hammer Dewsbury 60-6 on Thursday night.

“But we had a couple of injuries at half time, including Handforth.

“His hamstring was a bit tight and pulling a little bit, so we decided to take him off as a precaution.

“We were going to take Scott Murrell off actually, because his shoulder was sore, but in the end we opted to make the change at hooker.

“We went a little bit soft in the second half, but we’re 10 games in and we’re unbeaten, I think we have to be happy with that.”

Fax were down to 12-men early in the second period after back rower Dane Manning was yellow carded for trying to slow down a restart, a moment Harrison identified as key to the home side’s revival.

“They got energy off Dane getting stupidly sin-binned and Paul Cooke played into that space where he should have been defending,” said Harrison, whose side face Oxford in the Challenge Cup at the Shay next Sunday (3.0).

“But we still cut them open three or four times and should have had those scores on the board.

“We’re probably being a little greedy, but I think we earned the right to be greedy with the tough stuff we did in the first half.

“It might do us some good, sometimes it’s not a bad thing to have a bad half when the game is already won.

“It reminds us we are still not the finished article.”