Lions’ den could be a dangerous place for Fax

Stephen Bannister
Stephen Bannister

THIS Northern Rail Cup opener has got banana skin written all over it.

Forget the usual logic of Championship versus Championship One.

It is early in the season - even earlier than it was last year when little old Hunslet gave Halifax a hiding in the same competition - and most clubs have a fully fit, enthusiastic squad, fresh after a hard winter’s training.

That makes it a lot trickier to make matchwinning quality count.

Swinton, the perennial under-achievers of the bottom tier, have a proven new coach in Steve McCormack and a boatload of high calibre new boys, headed by the former Widnes hooker Mark Smith.

They only lost out by two points to Barrow at Craven Park in pre-season, as good an indicator of their potential as anything.

Fax are as big a scalp as you get outside of Super League now and their hosts will be motivated accordingly.

Matt Calland’s Championship winners have hardly ripped it up over the last month, although the team that runs onto the wide, open spaces of the Willows tonight will be the best they have fielded this year by any measure.

Australian Ben Black should give Danny Jones crucial support at half back, while hooker Bob Beswick brings brains, defensive workrate and another kicking option.

Will it be enough? It should be.

But as Fax discovered last year, if they give anything less than their best, they will be in trouble.