Halifax coach Richard Marshall has admitted his major motivation for Sunday’s crucial Championship showdown with Sheffield at the Shay (3.0) is not his side’s pursuit of a top four place but their abject performance against the Eagles earlier this year.
Fax, who slipped back to fifth on the league ladder on Wednesday night when Featherstone claimed fourth spot with a 37-18 victory at Bradford, were humbled 36-10 at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium at the end of April in a fixture that was over by half-time as the Eagles stormed into a 20-point lead.
“That was definitely the low point of my time here so far,” said Marshall, who brings his side back home on the back of a five-game on-the-road winning streak, the latest success coming in the ‘home’ fixture against London at Keighley last weekend.
“We’ve not won every game we’ve played this year, but we have competed in all of them except that one.
“I can’t recall why, but I’d driven to the game that day rather than travelling with the team and I remember the drive home being horrible, knowing that we’d not performed.
“We had some different combinations in the side that weekend and tactically, I got it wrong.
“That’s my motivation this week; to make sure we’re better than we were that day, to make sure we get it right tactically.
“I can’t speak for the players - for them it might be about the top four, money, contracts, whatever - but for me it’s just about making sure we perform better than we did that day.
“We’ve been going okay these last few weeks and we just need to keep reinforcing all those things we’ve been doing well.
“We’re still in our infancy as a team and those good habits aren’t second nature to us yet; we need to keep working on them, we can’t just take them for granted.”
Victory on home soil - with Marshall describing the new Shay pitch as “fabulous” - would cut the gap to the Eagles to just two points with three games remaining, with Rovers’ midweek success at Odsal adding even more intrigue to an already fascinating race for the places in the so-called ‘middle eight’ against the bottom four Super League sides.
“I honestly haven’t looked into all the permutations that much,” said Marshall.
“People keep telling me various ‘if we do this and they do that’ scenarios, but while it’s interesting to me, it’s not something I’m thinking about.
“It’s about performances and winning games; it’s a cliche, but if we do that the table will look after itself.”
Fax have a fitness doubt over winger Tommy Saxton, who has a groin injury, although Marshall said he would given the veteran back every chance to recover.
“We’ll give Tommy as long as we can, because he’s been playing well,” said Marshall.
“If he doesn’t come through in time, we’ve young Jake Eccleston who can play on the wing.
“We’ll see how Tommy is.”
One player Marshall will have available is the Hull KR back rower Jordan Cox, who has followed the young hooker Connor Robinson and become the second player to move between the two clubs on a dual-registration deal.
Cox, who had a loan spell at Huddersfield earlier this season, is highly rated on Humberside.