Rugby League: Tough test for Hornets as they take on Halifax

Date published: 24 February 2018

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Rochdale Hornets welcome Halifax RLFC to the Crown Oil Arena on Sunday afternoon.

Hornets head into this fixture off the back of a defeat to Dewsbury Rams in what was their season opener. They had to wait until round three to kick-off their season, as postponements led to Hornets being two weeks behind.

Halifax started their season with a defeat to Featherstone Rovers. They bounced back with a triumph over Sheffield Eagles, but despite a valiant effort in round three they lost out to Toronto Wolfpack.

Last season the two sides went head-to-head twice, with Halifax taking the spoils on both occasions, winning on their visit to the Crown Oil Arena and later in the season they were also victorious at The Shay.

Hornets make three changes to the side which lost to Dewsbury on Monday night, with Gary Middlehurst, Matty Hadden and Lewis Hatton all missing out through injury. In comes George King on dual registration from Warrington Wolves, along with Toby Adamson and Dave Allen who are set to make their debuts.

Halifax have made two changes to the squad that were beaten by Toronto, Chester Butler and James Green miss out, Dan Fleming and Ben Johnston come in.

Halifax are tough opponents, and have a lot of quality in their ranks. Scott Murrell’s kicking game is vital, as he can control the game with the boot. Steve Tyrer enjoyed some success against Hornets last year, scoring twice and kicking eight goals in two games. Full back Will Sharp is solid at the back, and his kick returns can get Halifax out of tough situations and on to the front foot.

Hornets coach Alam Kilshaw said: "They are a good side. They have had a couple of losses already, but playing against probably two of the competition heavyweights in Featherstone – away – and Toronto. I went to the game myself and they competed, and were a bit unlucky against Toronto. They also played Sheffield in some pretty poor conditions in the second half.

“They are a good defensive side, you have to be patient against them and they have got some real quality players. Scott Murrell’s kicking game is a threat to anyone, and they have got some experienced players as well, such as Scott Grix. Then you throw in their edges and there is some threat in there, and they are really well coached.

“It is going to be a difficult game, a difficult ask, we put a much better performance in against them last season at home than we did away. We need to have a look at ourselves and focus on ourselves.”

Hornets 19-man squad: Dec Kay, Earl Hurst, Toby King, Rob Massam, Lewis Palfrey, Danny Yates, Joe Taira, Ben Moores, Dave Allen, Toby Adamson, Luke Adamson, Ryan Maneely, Pat Moran, Lee Mitchell, Richard Lepori, Dec Gregory, Harvey Livett, Luis Johnson, Deon Cross.

Halifax 19-man squad: Ed Barber, James Clare, Brandon Douglas, Jacob Fairbank, Dan Fleming, Simon Grix, Ben Heaton, Ben Johnston, Sion Jones, Ben Kaye, Will Maher, Brandon Moore, Elliot Morris, Dan Murray, Scott Murrell, James Saltonstall, Will Sharp, Steve Tyrer, James Woodburn-Hall.

Hornets coach Alan Kilshaw looks ahead to the visit of Halifax

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