|Coral Challenge Cup semi-final: St Helens v Halifax|
|Venue: University of Bolton Stadium Date: Saturday, 27 July Kick-off: 16:30 BST Coverage: Watch on BBC Two, listen on BBC Radio 5 Live and local radio, follow live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app|
Halifax coach Simon Grix is under no illusions about the task his side face when they tackle Super League leaders St Helens in Saturday’s Challenge Cup semi-final.
The Championship side are rank outsiders, with one bookmaker making Saints 1-250 favourites.
“I think we are further than outsiders,” Grix told BBC Sport.
“There’s no pressure. We’re playing the best team Super League has seen for 20 years and we’re in the league below.”
Statisticians have already begun dusting off the record books, just in case, before Saturday’s match. The biggest score in a semi-final was Wigan’s 71-10 victory over Bradford in 1992, and the widest margin saw Wigan beat London 70-0 in 2013.
The last Championship side to reach the semi-finals – Hull KR in 2006 – were beaten 50-0 by St Helens.
But result and scoreline will not matter to Grix. It is pride and effort that he is looking for.
“As long as we don’t get beaten on the things that matter to us, the effort stuff, and maintain our standards, the scoreline will be what it will be,” he continued.
“As long as we can hold true to what we judge ourselves on internally, I’m alright with that.”
St Helens have put several fellow Super League sides to the sword this season, which is why they are expected to do the same to a Halifax side made up entirely of part-time players.
While Saints’ players have enjoyed their usual full-on pre-match build-up, the Halifax squad – who include a dairy farmer, a cake maker and an upholsterer – has had the benefit of just three night-time training sessions this week after finishing work.
“They’re all part-timers. There is no-one full-time at our club.” says coach Grix. “We’ll have had three sessions – Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. It is difficult, but we’re not complaining about that.
“If we were all a better standard and better quality of player, I’d imagine we’d all be up playing in Super League, being full-time and enjoying that luxury. But we’re not and we get on with it and we enjoy it. They’re a tight bunch of lads.”
‘Stranger things have happened’
Halifax’s place in the semi-final has stirred memories of the club’s golden years in the 1980s. They reached Wembley twice in that decade and beat St Helens in one of the most memorable Challenge Cup finals in 1987. They lost to Wigan beneath the twin towers a year later.
They were one of the inaugural Super League clubs, finishing third in 1998, but they slipped out of the top flight in 2003 and have never been back.
“For a lot of people at the club it will bring back a lot of nice memories of years gone by,” Grix said. “It would be nice to create a bit of a story for ourselves and have a good dig.
“I’m under no illusions. The reality is they are most likely to beat us, but stranger things have happened and we’ll just turn out and give our best.
“They’re just another bunch of blokes aren’t they. They’re just a little bit bigger and a little bit faster.
“Watching St Helens play is a real joy. They are really good, aren’t they? International after international carrying that ball forward.
“It will be a very difficult day on both fronts. It’ll be very difficult to break them down and it’ll be very difficult to contain them.
“But as long as the effort is there, I’m not too interested in the result.”