HALIFAX are staring into the abyss in the Northern Rail Cup for a second successive season after Sunday’s controversial last-gasp 26-25 home loss to holders Batley.
Matt Calland’s Co-operative Championship winners now need to take at least a bonus point from tomorrow night’s clash with Whitehaven at the Recreation Ground if they want to avoid a repeat of 2010, when they failed to make the knockout stages after a Shay defeat by Championship One outfit Hunslet.
But back rower Stephen Bannister reckons this time Fax have got what it takes to make the quarter finals.
“We will get through this one,” insisted Bannister, who made a big impact during a loan spell at Whitehaven in the early years of his career with St Helens.
“We know what we have got to do against Whitehaven and I am confident we can go up there and do the job tomorrow night.
“This is a big competition for us this year.
“We want to be up there with all the big teams and win every trophy that is available to us.
“That’s what we are striving for this year so it’s a massive game now.
“It’s still in our own hands.”
Bannister lined up at centre against the Bulldogs after the late withdrawal of Dylan Nash through illness.
But he refused to blame either the positional reshuffle or the club’s week-long training stint in Spain for the below par first half performance that allowed Batley to pile up a 22-6 interval lead.
“I played there in the play offs at Featherstone last year, so it’s not a position I am unfamiliar with,” he said.
“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, haven’t you?
“Spain was a chance to train on grass rather than a 3G pitch and do things that we cannot do when we are here because we don’t have the facilities, and I don’t think it was a factor on Sunday.
“Batley were just running harder than us in the first half and we weren’t completing.
“We completed at 40 per cent or something like that, and you are not going to win any game playing like that.
“We always had belief in ourselves, and we knew that if we did the things we had said we were going to do in the first half, we could come back.
“In the end, we just fell a bit short.”