Thursday, 23 February 2017

Sunday's Coming - Halifax

Richard Marshall’s Halifax have had a somewhat ordinary start to the 2017 campaign. Currently sitting 7th with one win from three, ‘Fax finally got their season up and running with a 42-16 win over perpetual basket-cases Sheffield. Having previously shipped 58 points in their defeats against Featherstome and Batley, it looks like Marshall has just about got his finger on Halifax’s leaky defence.

Much like Tim Sheens, Marshall identified attitude as the key component in arreesting his side’s defensive rot.  “Attitude was the biggest difference,” he said, speaking to the Halifax Courier. “The team took some pride in what they did today… we had some passion, desire and heart and proved a point.”

But Marshall still has the air of a coach who’s not entirely sure of his best 17. Having brought in Huddersfield (via Siddal and Bradford) hooker Adam O’Brien on loan (he only met his new teammates for the first time on the Thursday night before the Sheffield game) to accompany Salford loanees Ryan Lannan and Matthew Wilkinson, last week saw Will Sharp, he said (again in the Courier): “We threw a team together during the week really and I thought it gelled pretty well. We had Adam come in, young Ryan Lannon from Salford up front and Matthew Wilkinson at hooker again. All credit to the players for making it work.”  An interesting technique for sure, but whatever works…

Leading the way in last week’s game was flying try-machine winger James Saltonstall who scored a hat-trick. We’ve seen this lad before and he combines pace with an ability to get where gas can’t to get over the line. One to watch. Also catching the eye is former Penrith Panthers junior product Mitch Cahalane, who we last saw running round in the NSW Cup for Mount Pritchard Mounties.

It’ll be an eerily familiar afternoon for Halifax on Sunday when they line-up aganst Hornets’ Jake Eccleston, Gav Bennion, Ryan Maneely and Miles Greenwood: all formerly of the Shay.

Hornets go into the game on the back of a powerhouse performance against Hull KR. With the game in the balance until the 75th minute, Hornets sent a strong signal to the Championship that we’re not only here to play, but we’re here to shake it up. Indeed, last week’s performance busted the myth that the top end of the Championship is for those with deep pockets and dented Super League reputations.

Sunday’s game promises to be another full-on encounter and we can’t wait. See you there.