THE equation looks simple enough: If Halifax beat Rochdale Hornets tomorrow, and it doesn’t really matter whether they beat them by six or 60, they will have one and a half feet in the quarter finals of the Northern Rail Cup.
With Dewsbury already vanquished, and what should be a fool-proof trip to lowly London Skolars rounding off the four-game group stage at the beginning of next month, victory tomorrow would leave coach Karl Harrison looking at a three-from-four record at worst ahead of next weekend’s blockbuster against Featherstone.
With all due respect to John Stankevitch and his team, there will be precious few pundits marking this game down as an away win.
With no match action behind them at all – after no less than five cancellations because of the recent freezing weather – Stankevitch’s side will be underdone.
Not might be or could be, but will be. No matter how hard Stankevitch has worked them on the training field.
They’ll be fit and they’ll be fresh, but they will be missing that edge; that ability to find the right pass in the face of an aggressive defence.
Think back to Boxing Day, when Fax and Keighley fought out that distinctly scrappy warm up game. That’s where Rochdale are right now.
Which means that if Fax turn up with the same battle hardened attitude they showed at Dewsbury a week ago, this could be a long afternoon for the Hornets.
The likely inclusion of the winger Rob Worrincy, who scored four times on his last home outing, arguably makes Harrison’s team a potentially more lethal force in attack, even if the player who drops out is Wayne Reittie, who picked up a knee injury in an action-packed individual performance at Dewsbury.
The big question is this: Can Fax replicate the intensity they had against the Rams tomorrow?
The scenario is familiar: An unfancied Championship One side, at home, the week after a good, solid win?
If that’s not a recipe for complacency, it’s hard to say what is.
And in the recent past, it’s been a trap that Fax have fallen into a little too readily.
Losing to Hunslet in a very similar kind of fixture a couple of years ago, a defeat that cost the club a place in the last eight, is a sobering reminder of what can happen if standards are allowed to slip.
It will be interesting to see what impact Harrison’s straight-talking man management style has on the situation.
But it’s worth noting that Featherstone negotiated a similar hurdle with consumate professionalism in midweek, whacking Oldham by 60-points away from home.
Now it’s Fax’s turn to show they can step up to the mark in the same ruthless fashion.