Thursday, 29 August 2019

Sunday's Coming: Halifax

With only two weeks of this wretched season left, it seems a little incongruous to say that it's a good time to play Halifax. But it is.

Having shot their wad on a Challenge Cup Run, Halifax have had a pretty ordinary season by their usual standards - and it seems to be running out of steam.

In recent years, Halifax have built a reputation on over-achieving and bringing playoff football to the Shay, but this year's iteration languish 8th in the Championship - now equal on points with Swinton after the Lions handed an eleven-man Fax an old-skool flogging at Heywood Road a couple of weeks ago.

It's an issue that looms large in the mind of coach Simon Grix, who sees his side's slump - winning just one of their last 10 Championship outings - as a confidence issue. Speaking in the Halifax Courier the week he said: “At the moment, we are a team with next to zero confidence and very little resilience... as soon as anything goes against us, we’re looking for a hole to swallow us up."

“People talk about winning being a habit, but losing is too and it’s one we need to learn to break over the next three weeks. The players are all pretty deflated and embarrassed by what they’re doing but people are paying good money to watch them and they owe them - and themselves - more than they’re showing at the moment." A brutally honest analysis.

Speaking on Twitter this week, Grix admits that his side's current 40% completion rate isn't good enough to win games and that his immediate focus is '... looking after the ball'.

Grix is putting in a brave face though, again in the Courier he said: “We’re a team that shouldn’t be eighth in the Championship and we certainly shouldn’t be thinking about finishing ninth." But as we Hornets fans know, the league table doesn't lie.

It can be a bit deceptive, though. Hornets come into this game having put in a sterling shift against the juggernaut that is Toronto. For 40 minutes Hornets frustrated and challenged the Wolfpack - keeping them scoreless for 21 minutes. In that first half, Hornets got held-up over the line and eschewed a penalty bang in front. Add those to the mix and you'd have been looking at 12-8 at half time.

Yes, Toronto stepped it up a gear in the second half: and, yes, the game had six minutes shaved off it for a lightning storm - but to end the day with the same losing margin as second-placed York did is a genuine achievement that hints that there may be better things to come.

With only 160 minutes of our Championship adventure remaining, it's a good opportunity to wring every last drop out of the experience. So get yourself over to Halifax, let's get together, make some noise and see if we can't exploit Fax's confidence crisis. We'll be in the main stand - see you there.