By Stephen Ibbetson
Halifax RLFC head coach Richard Marshall says that his side aren’t taking anything for granted as they prepare for Sunday’s clash with Batley Bulldogs at the MBi Shay.
Fax sit in fourth place in the Betfred Championship table with six fixtures remaining, but Marshall insists that he is taking things a game at a time and expects a tough challenge against a Batley side that they beat 32-18 just three weeks ago.
“Forget about league positions and the top four, it’s Batley,” he said. “Batley are a good team, and we know that from a couple of weeks back.
“It looks on paper like we had a convincing win but we didn’t. We had to really work hard for that and they’ll have an improved squad from when we played them.
“They’re a very good Championship team and we’ll have to combat the forwards. We know a lot about Dave Manning, there’s Alex Rowe, and James Brown is a strong challenger with or without the ball.
“We don’t take anything for granted here, we work hard, and we want them to be at their best as well so we have to beat the best Batley team.”
Marshall also reflected on the impressive 46-4 win at Swinton Lions last weekend.
“I thought we scored some really, really nice tries, and not all set piece ones as well. Some were off the cuff, some of the things that you don’t practice that just come naturally to a team that’s playing with some confidence and flair.
“We also pride ourselves on our defence, to concede only four points against Swinton who I really do think are one of the best attacking teams in the competition. They managed to get a try off us but we were really pleased with our overall game.
“Obviously the conditions at the moment really suit the way that we’re playing. I’m really happy with the confidence and the tenacity within the team, but it’s just putting that together for two halves of rugby, which we’ve improved in since we’ve spoken over the last month about it.”
That result took Halifax back into the top four, and while Marshall says that he believes his side deserve to be where they are, he isn’t getting carried away.
“We’re still building, and we’re not talking about the top four, not yet. That’ll take care of itself,” he said.
“You finish where you deserve to finish and I think this team does deserve to finish in the top four if I’m being honest, at this moment in time. Whether we’re saying that in four weeks is entirely up to them.”
Marshall also gave an update on his squad, with James Woodburn-Hall back in the 17 after missing the last couple of games.
“James has had an up and down season but he’s back in the squad this week. Will Sharp’s had a couple of niggles and we were thinking of resting Shane Grady this week, but we’re not in a position to do that.
“Shane wants to play, he’s desperate to play. He’s probably due a rest but we’ve got to go with our strongest team this week and take nothing for granted.
“Harry Kidd is coming along, he’s obviously a long-term absentee for us but he’s still part of the squad, while everybody else is coming back to full fitness really, which is good.”