EVEN by the blowout standards of pro-am encounters, Halifax will unleash a points-scoring blitz on Lock Lane in the second installment of Sunday’s Carnegie Challenge Cup double header at the Shay (3.0).
That’s the verdict of Ovenden’s long-serving coach Steve Taylor, a veteran of two David-versus-Goliath clashes on Fax’s home turf.
The Four Fields side gave York a game at the same venue in 2006, and were never less than courageous during their 88-10 rout by Fax a year ago.
That experience - coupled with Ovenden’s narrow away defeat to Lock Lane last weekend in Division Two of the National Conference - puts Taylor in a perfect position to judge the Castleford side’s chances.
And it’s not good news for the amateurs.
“They haven’t got a snowball’s chance in hell,” said Taylor, who currently works alongside player-coach Gareth Jones - the older brother of Fax playmaker Danny - in the Ovenden dugout.
“I don’t think they are anything special, even at Conference level.
“They are an older side and, without making excuses, I think if we’d had a few more players available last weekend we would have come away with the win.
“It’s difficult to compare teams, but I don’t think they are anywhere near as strong as the team Ovenden put out at the Shay last year.
“They’ve got a couple of half-decent forwards who did some damage against us, but I cannot see them getting much change out of Halifax.”
So, after finishing on the wrong end of a 76-0 caning when the two sides last met in 2005, what can Lock Lane expect this time?
“I’ve been waiting for the coupon to come out, because if the handicap is anywhere near 70 I’ll be having a few quid on it,” laughed Taylor, whose 16 year old son, Brent, is a member of Fax’s new under 23 squad.
“It’s a big pitch down there and Halifax have so many attacking options with Jonesy, Ben Black and Graham Holroyd.
“They won’t have seen anything like that since the last time they played down there.”
HALIFAX’S under 23s lost out 30-4 to Dewsbury at Rams Stadium last night.
The Rams, with first team props James Walker and Kyle Bibb in their line up, blasted into an early 18-0 lead before Fax, featuring a clutch of 16 year olds, dug in and made a contest of it, with Seta Talatoka scoring their only try.
Fax’s first league game will be against Whitehaven at the Shay on Saturday, March 12 (2.30).
Super League clubs need to be allowed to increase the salary cap to avoid losing more players like Kyle Eastmond, according to former England coach Tony Smith.
St Helens half-back Eastmond ended speculation over his future by confirming his intention to switch codes at the end of the season, when he will join Bath on a three-year contract.
Saints must now wait to see if they will lose another England international, with joint captain James Graham pondering a move to Australia’s NRL when his contract runs out at the end of the year.
While Super League clubs are restricted to spending £1.65million on players’ wages, their counterparts in the Aviva Premiership can go up to £4million and NRL outfits can spend up to £2.6million.
“I won’t say I’m not disappointed because Kyle’s a talented kid and I don’t like to see talent go away from our competition,” said Smith. “If we have too much of it leave, that’s when I worry.”