DEWSBURY RAMS will look to reach the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup for the first time since the year 2000 when they host Halifax at the Tetley’s Stadium tonight (Friday, 8pm).
Wins over amateur sides West Hull and Thatto Heath Crusaders have taken the Rams to within 80 minutes of a place in the last eight of the knockout competition, and a win against their Championship rivals would see them through.
Halifax have beaten Hunslet and Super League side London Broncos to make this stage, but now have a temporary head coach in Simon Grix.
They have taken two wins out of two under him, putting them seven points and two places above Dewsbury in the league ahead of their Cup clash.
The two clubs have not met in the Challenge Cup since 1962, but in the league Halifax have won on their last four visits to the Tetley’s Stadium.
When the two sides met at the Shay two months ago, Halifax won 26-0 in horrendous conditions.
Rams coach Lee Greenwood, who had two spells with Fax as a player, acknowledges that his side are the underdogs going into the game.
“Nobody is expecting us to beat Halifax at home. The budgets are obviously different,” he said.
“They’re looking at Dewsbury and getting through to the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup, and from where we’re at, we’re just looking for a response.”
After two disappointing home performances on the spin, losing the Heavy Woollen derby to 12-man Batley on Good Friday before being nilled by Toulouse last weekend, the Dewsbury boss knows his side must do better to please the home crowd.
“The last two performances here haven’t been good enough and if you’re a Dewsbury fan, you’re probably fuming,” said Greenwood.
“It was a very disappointing game against Batley, and (against Toulouse) you’ve seen us get pumped. So if you’re coming on Friday you want to see a response.”
After naming the same line-up for two weeks running, in the shock win at Widnes and then the Toulouse defeat, Greenwood says that there will be changes this time around.
“There are a good number of people who will be available on Friday,” he said.
“It won’t be the same 17 because we felt that that 17 deserved it for what they did (against Widnes). There are people waiting in the wings to come in.”
Forwards Jode Sheriffe and Lucas Walshaw have missed out in recent weeks due to elbow and neck injuries respectively but could be set to return, as could winger Rob Worrincy against his former side.
“There were a few guys who got rested away at Widnes, because they probably couldn’t do a job and needed to recover,” Greenwood explained.
“We made the right decision in not forcing them to play, with the amount of effort that was needed last weekend. So we do have a few bodies back now.”
Paul Sykes (medial ligament) remains out of action and Greenwood says that the veteran half-back “can’t be rushed back”, while prop Martyn Reilly should be available in a few weeks.
Tickets for tonight’s game are the same prices as for league games, with adult tickets starting at £16, concessions from £13 and under-16s from £2.
The draw for the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup will take place on Sunday afternoon on BBC One, following the conclusion of the televised tie between Warrington and Wigan.