Halifax coach Richard Marshall believes his side can break their Super 8s Qualifiers losing streak at relegation-haunted Widnes on Saturday afternoon (3.15) but only if they can conjure a “9.5 out of 10” performance.
The Super League stragglers, now under the tutelage of former Bradford Bulls boss Francis Cummins - the coach who interested Fax before they appointed Marshall four years ago - are in apparent freefall.
Win-less in the Qualifiers, they must beat Fax in front of the Sky cameras and then win their remaining two fixtures to have any hope of dodging relegation via the so-called Million Pound Game.
“They’re desperate, they know they need to win otherwise they are definitely gone,” said Marshall, who was buoyed by a vastly improved second half performance in last weekend’s 38-24 loss at Hull KR.
“Everyone’s writing them off, but they’re not out of it yet; no one gave us a chance of winning our last four games last year to make the top four, but we did it.
“They know they need to beat us to give themselves a chance and, on paper, they should expect to do that.
“Neither side is in winning form, so they’ll be big favourites.
“A Super League team, at home, on their pitch, against a team of part timers on a Saturday afternoon? They should be putting 30 or 40 points on us.
“But we know things don’t always work like that in rugby league, so we’re viewing it as a fantastic opportunity in front of the TV cameras.
“We felt we got something out of that second half performance last weekend, so we want to take that into Saturday’s game.
“Look, we know it’s going to be difficult, but if everyone from one to 17 produces a 9.5 out of 10 or a 10 out of 10 performance, then we’ll give ourselves a chance of causing an upset.”
Marshall will again make changes to his team, with loose forward Simon Grix expected to return after missing the KR game with a facial injury, while on loan full back Kieren Moss will also be available after being barred from playing against his parent club last weekend.
Where Moss plays is open to question, with Will Sharp showing some stellar form after switching back to his favoured number one spot midway through last weekend’s game.
There is also a question mark over the participation of captain Scott Murrell, although Fax’s chief playmaker seems likely to figure despite a hand injury that forced him from the field at Craven Park.
“Scott dislocated his finger and he’s damaged his ligaments, but there’s no fracture,” said Marshall.
“He tells me he’s going to play, but we’ll see how he trains through the week.
“Simon will coming back in and Kieren is available again, but Will probably gave us a nice problem last week with his performance at full back.
“We’ll assess those two through the week and make a decision from there.
“We could also have Elliot Morris and Brandon Douglas available again after injury, so we’re okay for numbers.”