HALIFAX assistant coach Damian Ball is predicting a knife-edge contest when second-placed Batley arrive at the Shay for Sunday’s Co-operative Championship showdown.
Karl Harrison’s Bulldogs are flying high on the ladder while Matt Calland’s Fax are gunning for their fourth straight league win - and a fifth successive victory in all competitions after last Thursday’s Northern Rail Cup semi final success at Featherstone - as they bid to close the gap on the play off pack.
“I think it’s going to be a typical arm wrestle,” said Ball.
“Both teams are getting their defence in order, and I think it’s going to be about a high completion rate and good discipline.
“Batley will come with the same kind of enthusiasm in defence that Featherstone had last week; they like to get out of the blocks quick and play quite a basic, low risk game.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for what Karl Harrison’s done there, and he’s obviously got Lee Greenwood working alongside him now as well.
“With all due respect, I would imagine they have quite a low budget but they come out every week and perform to a high level.
“But the way we have been training over the last five or six weeks, we are used to that intensity now.
“We are lot more low risk and a lot smarter and games like that probably suit us at the moment.”
Fax have excelled since the arrival of the former Bradford, Wigan and Great Britain coach Brian Noble as football consultant, and Ball believes there remains plenty of untapped potential in the 2010 Grand Final winners.
“I think there’s probably another 20 or 25 per cent,” he said.
“The defence is being sorted out: the effort and intensity is there, although we are getting exploited on the edges a little bit.
“But people are still making decisions that are hurting the team and if we can reduce those decisions then the performance levels will increase.
“It’s a fantastic place to be at the moment; the last six weeks have been outstanding to be involved with.”
To see the full video interview with Damian Ball, plus action from the dramatic Northern Rail Cup semi final win at Featherstone, click play above now.