Halifax coach Richard Marshall has pledged his side will “take the game to Bradford” when they head to Odsal for Sunday’s crucial Championship derby (3.0).
Marshall’s part-timers have won their last three meetings against their full-time, big city neighbours; two home league games and a remarkable 50-point hiding at Odsal in the final game of last year’s Super 8s Qualifiers.
Despite those statistics, Fax will go into the game as underdogs, a status Marshall is more than happy with ahead of a contest between the third-placed Bulls and the fourth-placed visitors that could prove pivotal in the race for a top four finish.
“It’s a really interesting weekend, potentially a really important weekend in the context of the league table,” said Marshall.
“We have a good record against Bradford, but we have had to be at our absolute best in every one of those three games and we will need to be at our best again on Sunday.
“If we’re not, with the quality of players they have, it will be a tough afternoon for us.
“I think they will have targeted this game, so all the pressure is on them really.
“We cannot wait for it now, we’ve prepared well this week and if you prepare well you give yourselves half a chance on game day.
“They’ve got a lot of threat; they’re a big side across the park, not just in the forwards, and that can be quite intimidating.
“But we’ve got a resilient bunch of players and we want to go there, take the game to them and put them under pressure.
“I think our supporters have a key part to play this weekend.
“After how we performed at Whitehaven, I was genuinely surprised by the numbers we took to Dewsbury last weekend.
“They probably outnumbered the home support and I know in that first half, when we scored to get back to 8-4, that was a big motivator for the players; they wanted to get back down there and score again.
“The more people that make the journey on Sunday, the more chance we have.”
Marshall’s side will arrive at Odsal shorn of one of their most consistent players of recent years, the workaholic back rower Dane Manning, who broke his thumb in Sunday’s win over the Rams.
Manning will now be missing for an estimated minimum of six weeks, with Simon Grix the favourite to take his starting spot in the back row.
Full back Miles Greenwood could be available after a minor hamstring problem, although Marshall - who confirmed utility Connor Robinson will keep his place in the 17 - could yet stick with Ben Johnston as his last line of defence.
“Dane is a massive loss for us, there’s no doubt about that,” said Marshall, who will only find out later in the week if the on-loan Salford forward Matt Sarsfield is available or not.
“It means an opportunity for someone else, but it also means other players are going to have to work a lot harder to take those carries and make those tackles that Dane usually does for the team.
“He’s an incredible player, not just for his workrate but also for the micro details he does in the game, the work off the ball, and we will miss that.
“Miles trained on Tuesday and came through okay, so he’ll be in contention.
“We’ve got some options there, but Connor will be in the 17; I’d be hard pressed to justify leaving that young man out after the way he played last weekend.”