Karl: Basement battle will impact on top two chase

Fax are back on home soil this weekend
Fax are back on home soil this weekend
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Halifax coach Karl Harrison believes the scramble to avoid the fifth-and-final Championship relegation place will also have a major impact on the battle at the top of the table ahead of Sunday’s visit of Whitehaven to the Shay (3.0).

While Fax are locked in a three-way battle for second place in the Championship with Featherstone and Doncaster - and the £450,00 prize pot that goes with it - Haven are one of six teams still fighting to distance themselves from the fifth and final relegation spot ahead of next year’s league restructure.

And with seven games remaining, Harrison warned that is likely to lead to an intense end of season run in.

“No one wants to drop into the next tier at the end of this year, no one,” said Harrison, whose side currently trail second-placed Rovers by two points after last weekend’s 22-22 draw at Batley.

“I think the four teams at the top are clear of that battle, and I think the bottom four teams are going to struggle to get out of there, but there are six teams, including Whitehaven, who could still end up in that fifth spot.

“You’re talking about some quality teams sides there - Dewsbury, Batley, Sheffield - that are going to be getting more and more desperate and I think it’s going to have a big impact on the rest of the year.

“Whitehaven are a good side and they’re going to be desperate and we need to be desperate too, for our own selfish reasons.

“We’ve got seven games to go and we want to win them all, but how many do we need to win to finish second? We don’t know.

“But this season has been a story of twists and turns so far and I’m sure there are a few more to come; there are not going to be any easy games between now and the end of the year.”

Harrison has virtually a full squad to choose from, with only half back Simon Brown - who has a broken bone in his hand - absent from training this week.

“Simon has a pot on his hand and that will come off on July 24,” confirmed Harrison.

“It’s not a major fracture and hopefully he will be available for that first weekend in August.

“Everyone else is available.”

Harrison’s major decisions will come in the centres, where makeshift pairing Adam Robinson and Callum Casey will be aiming to hold their spots for a fourth successive weekend.

“We’ve won three of those games and drawn one that we feel we should have won, so they’ve done well,” said Harrison, who has this season’s form threequarter Steve Tyrer ready to make his comeback after shoulder problems..

“Will we change it? Possibly.

“Tyrer, Danny Cowling, Ben Heaton and Gareth Potts are all fit, so we have some options in the backline.”