Ben Black ready for Batley challenge

Halifax talisman Ben Black says the defending champions are ready to take advantage of good fortune and take the first step towards a second successive Co-operative Championship final by defeating Batley Bulldogs at Mount Pleasant on Thursday (7.30pm).

Halifax face a tough away trip in the first Elimination Play-off fixture of the season to opponents who have already beaten them three times this year, but the half-back believes his side are ready for the challenge.

“It’s been a tough year for us and an up and down season, so in many respects we’re quite lucky to be involved in a play-offs at all,” said Black.

“The lads are all ready for the game on Thursday and we’re looking forward to it. I’m pretty sure that any of the other teams in the six will know that we have the ability to win.

“Batley will come out firing. They’ve beaten us three times this season and they’re always a tough side to play away from home. But we’re big game players and we thrive on the big challenges at this stage of the competition and I’m feeling confident about the play-off.

“We’re a really close bunch of players and we all know just how good we can be on our day. We know that this is the most important part of the season.

“We have stepped it up a level in training and hopefully we’ll do the same on the pitch. It will be a different Halifax side that go out on Thursday because we know what to do and we thrive on these occasions.”

Having tasted the success of winning last year’s Co-operative Championship Grand Final in dramatic fashion against Featherstone Rovers, Halifax were forced to endure the sour taste of defeat in this season’s Northern Rail Cup final and Black says that experience has been a catalyst for the squad.

“We were all disappointed after the Northern Rail Cup final loss,” he said. “But it was a close game all the way through.

“We re-grouped after that and recorded some good results off the back of that defeat. Now we’re at the business end we’re ready to go that extra mile.

“The pressure to perform has intensified now because this is a do-or-die game – if we lose then we’re out and there’s no second chance. We know what to expect and we’ve been in the situation before and we’ve shown throughout the year that we have the ability to beat the top teams and we just need to perform.

“We want to finish the season in style because everyone in the squad knows that this could be our last season together. There will be a new coach coming in next year who may make changes and we want to win for each other and re-capture the thrill of winning which we experienced last year and that all starts against Batley on Thursday.”


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