By Jacob Kilbride
Halifax RLFC will make the trip to the New River Stadium in London as they face league leaders Toronto Wolfpack on Saturday evening (6:30pm kick-off).
Halifax currently sit fifth in the Betfred Championship table and could move into the top four if London Broncos don’t win against Dewsbury Rams earlier in the day.
Toronto are currently a point clear at the top of the Championship table after winning nine of their 11 league matches.
Both sides enter this fixture on a fine run of form, with Halifax having won all of their last four league matches since last month’s defeat at Toulouse, their latest coming in a 46-18 victory at Dewsbury.
Meanwhile, after suffering a heavy 47-16 loss at London in February, Toronto have gone on to win all of their last nine matches in all competitions to see them top the second-tier table, although their all of their last six victories have come by a margin of less than ten points.
Halifax will be without former Toronto duo Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e and Dan Fleming for the trip to the capital as part of their agreements to join Fax from the Wolfpack.
However, there is positive team news for Richard Marshall as Ben Heaton and Ed Barber return to the squad after the backs recovered from injuries this week having previously played for the Reserves.
Head to Head
Fax have met Toronto just once before, with Marshall’s side losing out 20-6 at the MBi Shay Stadium in February.
Halifax led 6-4 at the break after a Chester Butler try and Steve Tyrer on the stroke of half-time, following an opening score from Greg Worthington ten minutes earlier.
Former Fax winger Nick Rawsthorne scored early in the second period as the Wolfpack regained the lead before a couple of goals from Ryan Brierley and a brace of tries from Adam Higson sealed victory for the Canadian side.
You can watch highlights from that game here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5pFVl72hk8
Halifax are set to come up against two of their former players with hooker Bob Beswick and winger Nick Rawsthorne named in the Toronto squad.
After spells at Wigan and Widnes, Ireland international Beswick joined Halifax in 2009 and spent three seasons with the Blue and Whites, racking up 87 appearances and scoring 21 tries before leaving to Leigh.
Beswick signed for the Wolfpack in 2017 and, during his 23 matches last term, he scored ten tries as Toronto secured promotion from League 1.
The Wolfpack also have Halifax-born back Nick Rawsthorne amongst their ranks after signing the 22-year-old on a two-year contract from Hull FC in January.
Rawsthorne began his career with Halifax, scoring four tries and eight goals during his seven appearances for the club, before moving to Hull where he spent loan spells with York, Doncaster and Leigh.
Toronto Wolfpack Squad: Jonny Pownall, Liam Kay, Josh McCrone, Ryan Brierley, Bob Beswick, Ashton Sims, Andrew Dixon, Jack Bussey, Andy Ackers, Adam Sidlow, Blake Wallace, Adam Higson, Olsi Krasniqi, Rich Whiting, Nick Rawsthorne, Cory Paterson, Sam Hopkins, Jake Emmitt, Darcy Lussick
Halifax RLFC Squad: Ed Barber, Chester Butler, Brandon Douglas, Jacob Fairbank, Shane Grady, James Green, Simon Grix, Ben Heaton, Ben Johnston, Sion Jones, Ben Kaye, Will Maher, Conor McGrath, Brandon Moore, Elliot Morris, Scott Murrell, James Saltonstall, Will Sharp, Steve Tyrer
What Richard Marshall says
“They’re a good team who, on a dry track, have got some skills and some speed. In the last game, for around 65 minutes, there wasn’t a lot in that game. We had a couple of blemishes defensively. But we are where we are and we need to improve on that for this week.”
What Scott Murrell says
“They’re not top of the league for nothing. They’re a quality team and they’ve got former NRL and Super League players throughout (their squad). But, we’re not turning up to make up the numbers.”