Boss Simon Grix believes his out-of-form Halifax side are finally on the up again ahead of Sunday’s Championship showdown with Widnes at the Shay (3.0).
Grix’s side went down to a sixth straight loss at league leaders Toronto last weekend, but showed enough fight against the competition’s runaway leaders to suggest they are finally closing on a morale-boosting win.
The Vikings started the year as second favourites behind the Canadian side, and beat Fax comfortably in Cheshire on the opening day of the season, but have seen their promotion ambitions wrecked by points deductions and ongoing rumours of financial problems.
“We’ve not been in a great spot, but if we can play with the energy we have shown the last two weeks, we will give ourselves a chance,” said Grix, who put his players through their paces in Canada on Monday before flying back across the Atlantic early on Tuesday.
“I think we’ve seen enough against Featherstone and Toronto to suggest we are on the up again after a tough few weeks.
“The players are encouraged by what they’ve done in parts of those games and they know that if they put it together for longer spells they will get some reward from it.
“They know they’re a better side than the form they’ve been producing, and they understand how and where they’re hurting each other, and they’re focused on having a good dig against Widnes now.
“There’s a lot of talk about Widnes at the moment, but all that is outside of our control.
“In my opinion, if even half of those rumours are true, all it will do is galvanise their players into producing performances on the field, for themselves and their teammates.
“If we expect them to turn up and just roll over, we are going to be disappointed.”
Grix expects to make several changes to his team, with Cook Islands forward Adam Tangata, who missed the Toronto game with concussion, poised to return against the club he fleetingly joined - and was then swiftly cut by after the Vikings went into administration - at the end of last year.
Jacob Fairbank is poised to return after being rested against the Wolfpack, while skipper Scott Murrell, who has missed the last two matches, could also come into contention.
Grix was also weighing up the merits of Chester Butler, who has also been absent for two weeks, and James Woodburn-Hall, who has not played since the loss at Barrow but made a try-scoring appearance for League 1 partners Hunslet last weekend.
“Adam should be cleared to play and Jacob will be back; he just needed a week off,” said Grix, who admitted his selection could reflect the club’s increased focus on 2020 after they were distanced in this year’s play off race.
“We are hoping Scott will be okay after a couple of weeks down time, but we’ll wait until later in the week before making that decision.
“There are some choices to make there because we also need to have a good look at Ben Johnston, who has obviously missed a big chunk of the year through injury, to see if he can give us what we want for next year.
“We might look at the backline as well; Chester’s not been in a great form, and Woody was with Hunslet last weekend, but there’s a way back into the team for them if they’re doing the right things on and off the field.
“The players in those positions have been pretty consistent, but we’ll review the Toronto game and see where we go from there.”