This year's Championship is as tough as we've seen it, says Panthers boss Grix

Simon Grix. Photo: Simon Hall/OMH Rugby PicsSimon Grix. Photo: Simon Hall/OMH Rugby Pics
Simon Grix. Photo: Simon Hall/OMH Rugby Pics
Halifax Panthers boss Simon Grix believes this year’s Championship season is the most competitive in years as his men prepare for the visit of Whitehaven.

The 36-year-old made the comments after his side ended their four-match losing run (across all competitions) with a commanding 42-6 win away at Workington last Sunday.

That victory was just the second of the season for the Panthers, who leapfrogged Whitehaven into tenth in the table.

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The Championship gets harder every year,” said Grix. “I think this year is as hard as we’ve seen it, in terms of the quality of competition, the quality of teams up and down the league - from spot one all the way down.

“There’s going to be games which surprise people. There’s going to be points picked off that you wouldn’t expect, because it is that competitive.

“2016 was the first season I came back [to Halifax]. I didn’t play a big part in it, but there were probably half a dozen tough games. The rest were quite steady. I think generally, year on year, that’s built to where now every game is quite a difficult fixture.

“You can’t really pick any and say ‘oh, that’s easy’. That was a good physical game [against Workington]. The scoreline obviously suggests we were dominant - and we were - however it was a good physical contest.

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“I think we’ll be encouraged by what we’ve done, but we won’t get ahead of ourselves. It’s two points on the board. We’ll move on and really look at how we go about getting the next two.”

Looking at the results, it’s undeniable that Halifax have endured a tough start to the season having recorded just two wins from six games. However, those who followed the previous campaign will refrain from reaching for the panic button just yet.

The Panthers kicked off the 2021 season by winning just one of their first four Championship fixtures. They then went on to win 11 of their next 12 outings as they sealed a third-placed finish.

Last weekend’s win over Workington could mark a similar shift in the season should Halifax back it up with a win against Whitehaven.

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Despite the slow start to the campaign, Grix admitted that his side never lost belief saying: “We’ve been confident anyway, internally. Everyone externally can think what they want. We know how good we’ve been and how close we’ve been.

“At times, in the last few games, we’ve gifted victory or gifted opportunities. That’s just an area we need to keep working on and tidying up.

“A win in the Championship - they’re not easy to get. move on now, after what has been a really difficult period and start looking into the next one straight away.

“It’s two points on the board and we really needed that this week going into a tough one with Whitehaven at home.”

Sunday’s Championship encounter between Halifax and Whitehaven gets underway at 3pm at The Shay.