Featherstone Rovers v Halifax: Chance to reach Qualifiers again drives on Halifax

Halifax's Scott Murrell
Halifax's Scott Murrell
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HALIFAX captain Scott Murrell believes achieving a Qualifiers spot will be an even bigger achievement than in 2015 given he and his squad all took pay-cuts before the start of this season.

They will claim fourth place and a chance to face Super League opposition if they win at Featherstone Rovers in tomorrow’s penultimate regular Championship game.

Featherstone's Anthony Thackeray

Featherstone's Anthony Thackeray

Of course, that will not be easy; their third-placed hosts, though already certain of achieving a top-four spot, still have a chance to overhaul London Broncos in second place.

Stand-off Murrell said: “Fev have also beaten us twice this season so we know what they can do.

“They have a good set of forwards and Keal Carlile at hooker has been immense while Anthony Thackeray’s been good in the halves, too.

“They’ve just signed Sam Brooks from Widnes and I played with him at Halifax. He’s a good player who will add some punch at prop.

I think it would be even bigger than when we did it three years ago as it’s no secret we all took a 10 per cent pay cut this season and everyone wrote us off.

Halifax’s Scott Murrell

“But we know what we have to do and it would be great to get into the Qualifiers again.

“I think it would be even bigger than when we did it three years ago as it’s no secret we all took a 10 per cent pay cut this season and everyone wrote us off.

“We’ve still not done it but we are in position to do it.”

There is barely no margin for error, though, for Richard Marshall’s side, who put themselves in the box seat with a superb 16-8 win at Toulouse last Saturday, nudging the French club out of fourth spot.

Featherstone Rovers' coach, Jon Sharp. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Featherstone Rovers' coach, Jon Sharp. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Toulouse remain just two points behind, however, and with a vastly superior points difference to part-timers Halifax.

The French club are at leaders Hull KR tomorrow and then host Featherstone in next week’s final round when Halifax welcome Murrell’s former club KR.

“It was terrific to win in France,” admitted the 31-year-old.

“Obviously, having lost at Swinton recently it meant every game was a must-win for us and we’ve turned up with that mentality for the last two weeks against Bradford and Toulouse. Now we need to do the same at Fev and, hopefully, Hull KR can do us a favour, too.

“Toulouse are a quality side and, even though they’ve lost their last four games, they have the personnel to turn it around.

“The best thing about this comp’ is that everyone still has something to play for - Fev can still get second and an extra home game in the Eights and the only thing certain is KR finishing top.”

Featherstone could give a debut to Brooks after the 23-year-old prop arrived yesterday and coach Jon Sharp has not given up on chasing down London.

“The pressure’s off mathematically,” he said.

“We are in the four and we’re really proud to be the first part-time team to do it back-to-back.

“But we don’t want to sit back – we want to keep going. It is important we hit a bit of form going into the Qualifiers and we have a winning mentality.

“We want to try and finish second. We have to put London under pressure by winning and doing a job on ‘Fax, then we’ll be hoping Rochdale or Batley do us a favour by beating London.”