Harrison’s tactics key to Fax success

Rob Worrincy with the trophy
Rob Worrincy with the trophy

Winning Halifax coach Karl Harrison admitted he had tried to wrest the initiative from Featherstone Rovers even before a ball had been kicked in the Northern Rail Cup final at Bloomfield Road.

Fax triumphed 21-12 in Blackpool, with a late Steve Tyrer touchdown clinching a sensational success over the league leaders, who had comfortably eclipsed Fax in league action at the Shay last month.

Harrison sprang a pre-match surprise with a team sheet that had back rower Adam Robinson at hooker, prop Luke Ambler in the second row and captain Sean Penkywicz on the bench.

On the field, Craig Ashall slotted in at number nine, Robinson and Ambler swapped places and veteran Jim Gannon packed down at loose forward, giving Fax an extra front rower.

“We changed the starting line up, changed the team sheet, put Penkywicz on the bench, went for a big, strong team from the start and even took a short kick off,” said Harrison.

“I think we changed the flow of the game from minute one, which was what we wanted to do.

“We decided three weeks ago that’s what we were going to do, but we left it until an hour before kick off to surprise them and I think it did.

“I thought it was a very brave performance by our team.

“Featherstone put us under all kinds of pressure in our own quarter and we responded magnificently.

“We just about deserved to edge it in the end.”

Fax were superb defensively, with the former Rovers player Dane Manning setting a cruel pace in the back row of the pack.

“I thought Manning was defensively very, very good on Andy Kain,” said Harrison.

“Kain’s a good, elusive runner of the ball and he’s caused every team all kinds of problems this year.

“Adam Robinson on the other flank was every bit as good as Dane and overall I thought we were very very solid up front.”

One notable difference to the last contest between the Championship’s top two was the speed of the game, an issue Harrison had been particularly outspoken about, accusing Daryl Powell’s side of using “WWF” wrestling techniques.

“I started a bit of a war of words regarding the wrestle, and perhaps I should apologise for that, but I’m not going to: it’s part and parcel of the game,” said Harrison, who was seen in discussion with Powell after the final whistle.

“Sometimes you have to say something and that was the case with this.

“We certainly played differently to how we played three weeks ago, we played with a lot more push, a lot more deception and we didn’t allow them that wrestle time.”