Bradford Bulls v Halifax Panthers preview: Liam Finn wanting fast start on derby day at Odsal

Halifax Panthers’ head coach Liam Finn has insisted “starting well is always required” on derby day as he prepares to take his side to Odsal for the Good Friday Championship clash with Bradford Bulls (kick off 7.30pm).
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Fax had the complete opposite of a fast start in their last-16 Challenge Cup tie at home to Super League’s Catalans Dragons who stormed into an 18-0 after only 15 minutes before going onto win 40-4 last Sunday.

Asked if he was looking for a better start at Odsal tomorrow, Finn replied:

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“Absolutely without a doubt. That’s a given. It’s derby day so starting well is always required. Saying that, if we don’t, then we will have to find a way to cope a little bit better than we did against Catalans.

Fax in action at the Bulls on Christmas Eve. Photo by Simon Hall.Fax in action at the Bulls on Christmas Eve. Photo by Simon Hall.
Fax in action at the Bulls on Christmas Eve. Photo by Simon Hall.

“That’s what we were disappointed with last week as we wanted to challenge them a bit more and it didn’t happen. The start from them was really good and we were a bit off, so it was over pretty early.

“And we know Bradford are a physical side. They have got a good pack. They are chopping and changing a little bit at this moment in time and are trying to find their feet with a new coach and that makes them a little bit more difficult to plan for.

“They have got good players all around the field. Lilley (Jordan) has been a good player for them for a while as their half-back who steers them around pretty well.

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“They are a good Championship team as we know.”

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The two sides played each other three times last season with nothing to separate them in terms of results, as the Bulls beat the Panthers 26-22 at The Shay on Easter Monday in their first league meeting before Fax exacted revenge 12 days later in the Challenge Cup, 26-0. The teams then played out a thrilling 22-22 Championship draw at Odsal in June.

Will it be another close contest on Good Friday?

“I would have thought so,” replied Finn. “We are two pretty evenly matched teams going at it in round two, although, obviously, it feels a lot later than that.

“Both teams have had their peace to deal with so it will be interesting, a little bit of the unknown but, at the same time, it will be exciting as it’s a derby.

“That’s one of the beauties of sport - local derbies and Halifax fans want to win this one more than any other and we’re the same.”