Harrison: Handforth switch the key to York success

Ben Heaton
Ben Heaton

Halifax coach Karl Harrison pinpointed half back Paul Handforth’s switch to hooker as the turning point in his side’s 18-14 Championship win at York.

Fax trailed 14-0 after a horror opening 15 minutes at a freezing Huntington Stadium, but with Handforth pulling the strings at dummy half they roared into a matchwinning 18-14 lead at the break.

Handforth, who replaced starting number nine Craig Ashall, made two of them - for the forwards Dane Manning and Adam Robinson - and scored another himself with an outrageous dummy and scoot.

“They caught us cold; the defence was soft, we made an error on the first set, they scored and that set the tone for that first 20 minutes,” said Harrison, whose side take on Batley at Mount Pleasant in Thursday night’s TV game (7.30).

“We were getting out enthused, beaten in contact, it was disappointing.

“I thought moving Handforth changed the game in truth; he was fantastic in that second quarter.

“He sees things very quickly, he got York going backwards and he just created space for our big guys to start punching some holes in their defence.

“It’s probably something we will look at doing again, although I thought Karl Ashall did well when he came on too.

“Craig Ashall didn’t have his best game there, but he felt a bit off before kick off, maybe a touch of illness or something.

“He’s been good for us this year though and it’s good to have options for that position.”

The second half was a stalemate, although Harrison’s side did have the best of the chances, with both Handforth and winger Rikki Sheriffe both going close.

“I think we were so close to making it a 30-point game at various points, but it wasn’t to be,” said Harrison.

“You have to give credit to York; they played fantastic and made us work really hard on a skinny field.

“In the end though, our record speaks for itself. We’re four from four and we came from 14-0 down to win away from home.”