Halifax coach Karl Harrison has not thrown in the towel on a second-place Championship finish ahead of Sunday’s league fixture at fourth-placed Doncaster - but concedes the chances of his side overhauling Featherstone are now minimal.
Having lost 20-4 to Rovers in the so-called £250,000 fixture a fortnight ago, Fax now trail their arch rivals by two points going into this weekend’s penultimate round of league games.
Given Rovers’ far superior points difference, Harrison’s side now need Sheffield to win at Post Office Road on Sunday and Keighley to spring a final-day surprise at Cougar Park to have any chance.
“The table says it’s not over, but you wouldn’t say it was likely,” said Harrison.
“We’re relying on Sheffield and Keighley, so all we can do now is go about our business, win at Doncaster on Sunday and beat Barrow on the last day and see what happens.
“It’s certainly disappointing, but Featherstone are a strong team and although they’ve been through some turmoil this season they were just a bit better than us on the day.
“We’ve regrouped this week and we’ll focus on what is a very difficult game at Doncaster and getting the three points.
“After that, it’s out of our hands.”
Three points against Paul Cooke’s side will be no easy feat, with the veteran playmaker’s half back combination with Australian Jacob Miller, the dual-registered Hull FC player, highly rated by Harrison.
“Paul Cooke can still play at this level, there’s no doubt about that,” said Harrison.
“He’s a very dangerous attacking player and he’s got Miller alongside him, who’s a £100,000-a-season player, so they ask plenty of questions of your defence.
“They’ll certainly test us, so we need to be on our game defensively.”
Harrison said he would not settle on his own selection until Friday night, although hard-working hooker Ben Kaye is almost certainly ruled out.
“Ben’s been ill this week, so I’m not sure whether he’ll be fit,” said Harrison, who has a ready-made replacement in Keith Holden.
“We’ve got decisions to make in a few areas; we’ve got Peter Fox available, for example.
“We’ll discuss those choices through the week and go from there.”