Written by John Davidson
Photo by Photo Sky Sports
Grix: St Helens is our final
Halifax are on cloud nine after reaching their first Challenge Cup semi-final in 31 years, but coach Simon Grix is not daring to dream of another upset.
Fax are into the last four of the Cup after coming from behind to beat Bradford 20-16 at Odsal Stadium. That win means they will now face top Super League side St Helens in the semi-finals.
Grix believes it is brilliant his club gets to tackle Saints at Bolton, but is under no illusion of the collosal challenge his part-time team faces against the best fully-professional club side in the UK.
“I think we got the team the other two wanted to avoid,” he admitted.
“[But] it will be brilliant. It’s our final – we’re not going there with any expectations of winning, by any means. But we’ll go and hopefully give a good account of ourselves.
“It’s probably a tale the young lads in the team, like Chester Butler and so on, might be telling their grandkids about playing against… it’s a good story for them.
“Our fans get another day out and a well deserved day out as well.”
“It’s big, it’s massive for a Championship team. It’s been a long time. We deserved it.”
The last time Halifax went this far in the Challenge Cup was 1988 when they beat Hull after a semi-final replay and faced Wigan at Wembley.
The west Yorkshire outfit, captained by Australian Graham Eadier, went down to a star-studded Wigan side 32-12 in London.
But the 2019 Halifax side is making history of its own. Grix’s men fought from behind three times, and lost Adam Tangata to a sin-bin for 10 minutes and Ed Barber to concussion, to edge Bradford in a classic.
Fax were behind 6-0 at half-time, but roared into life after the interval and snatched the win late thanks to a great James Wooburn-Hall try in a thrilling Cup classic.
“It’s unbelievable really, considering how the game went,” Grix admitted.
“Going down to 16 men pretty much straight away with Ed Barber going off with a nasty head knock. That puts the bench under pressure.
“Then Adam hitting the kicker late, whether it was late or not I’m not sure. We did well to come through that period and going in at half-time 6-0 behind, I was really happy with that to be honest because we didn’t play anywhere near we could.
“We made some errors, but we weren’t really broken down. We had the character, we came up with the plays at the right time. We stuck in there.
“Probably emotionally it floored Bradford when we got the penalty try. We grew a bit, we made it interesting, definitely. It was good for rugby league I think. The spectacle would have been watched on TV by many.”
In the other Cup semi-final Warrington will face Hull FC.