Halifax’s top four fate is not in their hands anymore after a bitterly disappointing defeat to Featherstone Rovers last Sunday. The four point loss, coupled with Bradford Bulls’ win over Oldham, saw Halifax drop to sixth place in the league. They now have to pick themselves up off the ground for their match with London Broncos this weekend. The Broncos sealed their spot in the top four a few weeks ago but they have suffered consecutive defeats to Sheffield Eagles and Batley Bulldogs.

Last Time Out

Halifax’s hopes of a top four finish took a massive blow as they were defeated 24-20 by Featherstone Rovers at The Shay. It was the hosts who were in the lead at the break after a Steve Tyrer penalty goal was backed up with tries from Connor Robinson and Ben Johnston. Tyrer’s penalty came after both teams went down to 12 men following the sin-binnings of Jacob Fairbank and Ian Hardman. Featherstone’s four pointers in the opening 40 minutes were scored by Andy Ellis and Ashton Golding. Kyle Briggs levelled the game with a penalty goal after the restart prior to Rovers hitting the front thanks to a Misi Taulapapa try. Mitch Cahalane scored on the hour mark to put Halifax back in front but the decisive score in the match came a few minutes later when Anthony Thackeray touched down after taking in an offload from Jack Ormondroyd.

London Broncos, with Jamie Soward on debut, lost 31-20 against Batley Bulldogs at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium. The capital club were 14-4 down at the halfway stage but they did initially break the deadlock through Elliot Kear. However, a double from Shaun Ainscough and a lone Shaun Squires four pointer gave Batley a two score advantage. London did cut the deficit with the first try of the second half through Ben Hellewell but the revival was short-lived as Wayne Reittie and Dominic Brambani both crossed the chalk for the Bulldogs. Api Pewhairangi and Adam Gledhill both exchanged scores for London and Batley respectively before Broncos forward Mark Offerdahl posted a consolation try. Brambani ended the game with a drop goal as he capped off an impressive individual performance with gusto.

Key Battle

Since their defeat to Featherstone, Halifax have also learnt that they will be without talismanic centre Steve Tyrer for the remainder of the season. The astute goal-kicker has been ruled out with an arm injury. Coming in to replace him could be Ed Barber, who has held himself well when given a chance in the first team under Richard Marshall. Ben Heaton was in the other centre spot for the visit of Featherstone. London coach Andrew Henderson opted with Ben Hellewell and Elliot Kear in the centres for the match against Batley. The former Castleford captain knows he can shuffle the team around for the last match of the regular season but the Broncos will want to head into the Qualifiers with a good win under their belts.

Prediction

It’s been a tough week for Halifax but they will be wanting to finish it on a positive note. Fax need to beat London and hope Swinton get the better of Batley at Heywood Road. Nothing less is good enough. The Broncos will be wanting to see the best of Jamie Soward before the Qualifiers begin. The former NRL winner made his second debut for London last weekend in a losing effort against Batley. Will the Australian, and his fellow teammates, hit top gear on Sunday? – Halifax by 14