Fax ‘coming home’ for crucial clash with Rovers

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Halifax coach Richard Marshall has said his team are looking forward to “coming home” ahead of their critical Championship showdown with Featherstone at the Shay on Sunday (3.0).

Fax will return from a six-week spell on the road when they host Rovers in a game neither side dare lose in the chase for a top four finish and a place alongside Super League champions Leeds Rhinos in the Super Eights Qualifiers.

Fax’s 58-18 loss at Leigh last weekend, coupled with Rovers’ win at Batley, means there are now four teams - Fax, Batley, Bradford and Featherstone - covered by a single point with two games remaining.

Marshall’s side still sit third on points difference, but can ill afford a second successive reverse.

“It’s a big, big game for both clubs,” said Marshall.

“The players don’t need me to tell them how important it is or what’s at stake; my job this week is to make sure we have a plan that works and prepare them so they go out and execute that.

“We’re ready to come home and play on our own field in front of our own supporters again.

“We’ve had six weeks of getting on the bus every Sunday and while we’ve performed well, we’re looking forward to being back at the Shay; I can only see that being an advantage for us.

“We’re coming off a disappointing result at Leigh, but we’re a good team and the players are a resilient bunch.

“We’ve not dwelled on that game too much; we did individual reviews rather than a team one and moved on.

“There weren’t many positives out of it, but I think the players recognised that Leigh played very well and we played very poorly by our standards.

“They were very hot on the day. I’ve watched a lot of footage of them over the last month or so and they’ve not been performing at that level.

“It’s in the past now, it’s all about our next two games and making sure we perform at the level we have been doing.”

Both sides team selections are likely to prove interesting, with Rovers dipping into Leeds’ first team squad in recent weeks for star names like Jordan Lilley, Ash Handley, Ash Golding and Anthony Mullally.

“They’ve had some players from Leeds and I’d expect them to have some more this weekend,” said Marshall.

“But we can’t control their team, only ours.”

That team could yet include hooker or half back Connor Robinson, despite the former Hull KR player breaking a finger at Leigh.

With frontline hooker Ben Kaye still a doubt with illness, Marshall’s choices at number nine could prove crucial.

“Connor trained on Tuesday with his hand strapped up, but whether he can play like that I don’t know yet,” said Marshall, who is likely to welcome back Castleford prop Ryan Boyle after a hamstring strain.

“We’re unsure whether Ben will be able to play so we need to assess our options in that area.

“We’ve got Brandon Moore and we’ve also got a 48 hour recall on Ryan Maneely from his loan at Rochdale, so we might look at using that.”